Manitoba premier to declare state of emergency as snowstorm slams province
Published Saturday, October 12, 2019 6:52PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 12, 2019 11:04PM EDT
TORONTO -- Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he will be declaring a state of emergency as a snowstorm continues to rage across the province, knocking out power to multiple regions.
Pallister made the announcement in a press conference Saturday following a request from Manitoba Hydro.
Although snow has slowed in areas such as Winnipeg, thousands of people were still in the dark Saturday as the company fought the elements to restore power. The company said in a press release Saturday morning that just under 53,000 customers were without electricity.
In Winnipeg alone, there are more than 7,000 people without power.
The storm swept into the province on Thursday, bringing rain and wet snow to southern Manitoba. The weather has wreaked havoc so far, bringing down trees and power lines, and forcing numerous school closures and bus cancellations.
Some communities received over 20 cm of snow on Friday, according to levels recorded by Environment Canada.
Manitoba Hydro was unable to provide estimated times for restoration due to the weather conditions and the extremely high volume of calls they are receiving.
Calling a state of emergency will allow the government to direct more resources to help Manitoba Hydro crews and other provincial workers cleaning up the damage caused by the storm.
Environment Canada’s website says that only the southwest corner of the province is still under a winter storm warning. Up to 5 cm of additional snow could fall in the affected areas before the low pressure system passes through completely.
The worst of the storm may be over, but the cleanup effort is far from over.
In a press conference Saturday morning, assistant chief of emergency management, Jason Shaw, said there “are still critical infrastructure concerns,” for the city of Winnipeg.
The city has received nearly 2,000 calls to 311 about fallen trees and branches.
Around 50 crews continue to clear and remove downed trees and fallen branches, the city said, focusing efforts on places where branches or trees are blocking streets.
According to the city, one person was sent to hospital in critical condition after a tree fell, and another person was hit by a bus. Shaw said no other injuries from the storm have been reported.
Snow plows have been working on clearing priority streets in the city, and were working overnight. Several highways across Manitoba remain closed on Saturday.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman encouraged people to stay home if possible, adding that falling snow from trees, or trees collapsing belatedly due to the weight of snow, could still pose a risk to pedestrians.
Bowman said the storm cleanup is costing a lot and will have an impact on city finances, but wasn’t able to say Saturday just how much it could cost in total.
On Friday evening, the storm shut down many advance polling stations across the province.
All of the latest closures can be found online on the Elections Canada website.
With files from Beth Macdonell