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Hydro making progress in rural outages

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By dark, all but 1,500 customers who lost power after a freak winter storm Thursday are expected to be back on the grid, a Manitoba Hydro spokesman said.

"We caught a good break with the weather today and the boys have been working extremely hard," said spokesman Scott Powell.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 people were left in the dark in southeastern Manitoba due to Thursday’s autumn snowstorm. Most of them live in the Piney, Whiteshell, Falcon Lake and West Hawk Lake areas.

Initially, customers in those heavily wooded remote areas, the heart of cottage country near the Ontario and Minnesota borders, were told they might not have power until after the Thanksgiving weekend.

But by late Saturday, the projections looked a lot brighter.

Some 4,500 customers were hooked up to the grid by late Saturday afternoon. More were expected to come on line during the evening and overnight, Powell said.

At the same time, there are customers, in the Piney, West Hawk Lake and Falcon Lake area that won’t see hydro for another day.

Crews faced a massive job when the ice, heavy snow and strong winds broke at least 120 hydro poles in the Piney area, south of Steinbach.

The towns of Vita remains under a state of emergency, said Jim Swidersky, reeve of the Rural Municipality of Stuartburn.

"We haven’t had any reports of injuries or fatalities and that’s the important thing," Swidersky said.

All day, work by hydro crews has been steadily paying off.

"They’re getting closer and closer. And they’re lighting up more and more homes"

Phone services is restored to most customers, now, he said.

The reeve added he believes about 80 to 85 per cent of the RM is now back on the hydro grid. The homes that are still in the dark are mainly in more isolated areas to the north, east and south of Vita.

"It’s hard on the people without power. The main lines have been put back up but what it is is the feeder lines that aren’t up. People can call Hydro and tell them they don’t have power and that way, maybe Hydro will be able to get to them quicker," Swidersky said.

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