Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Vehicles stuck in frozen traffic jam

Parking lot flooded after water-main break

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Residents of an apartment complex in the Maples are baffled by how they can free vehicles that are frozen solid in axle-high ice after a water-main break.

More than two dozen cars were stuck in the parking lot behind Northwood Oaks, near Jefferson Avenue and Adsum Drive.

Water gushed from the broken main on Tuesday and turned the parking lot into a pond about 25 centimetres deep. With a temperature of -30 C, the vehicles quickly froze in solid ice that is about halfway up the tires on some vehicles.

Rod Haines, a resident at Northwood Oaks on Morello Bay, was one of several residents who tried to move his car Tuesday morning with no luck. He was able to start it, but it wasn't going anywhere.

"I was hoping I'd be able to rock it and get it out of there, but it's not moving one bit," he said. "We're not getting any warmer weather over the next few days, so if we don't get it out of here, we could be here until the end of the week."

'I was hoping I'd be able to rock it and get it out of there, but it's not moving one bit'

-- Northwood Oaks resident Rod Haines

The residents have not been told about how they can free their cars from the ice.

Brian Smiley, spokesman for Manitoba Public Insurance, said anyone who has their car stuck would have to call a tow truck and then file a claim with MPI. MPI offices were closed Wedneday, but they are back from holidays today.

Residents of the apartment complex were concerned, however, that even tow trucks will be of little help because the parking lot is full of vehicles and is long and narrow, with an entrance at only one end, meaning the space is too cramped for tow trucks to navigate.

Residents were also concerned about getting water for their homes, since the water remained off Wednesday and taps and toilets remained dry.

People lined up Wednesday to get water, waiting in the bitter cold for their turn to fill up buckets from a tank provided by the city and parked in the middle of Jefferson Avenue, which was closed to traffic.

'At least we have power. We're better off than those poor people left sitting in the cold for a couple of days'

-- Joan Danchuk

Paramjeet Lal, 27, visited the tank a number of times. She said she's optimistic about the whole situation.

"If I'm crying it's not going to do anything," she said. "Life is short, be happy."

Lal is one of many whose car is frozen to the south parking lot. However, she wasn't immediately worried about her car because she doesn't have to use it until she goes to work Monday.

Joan Danchuk always has extra water in her home for times like these.

"Water-main breaks are common in the winter, so it's always good to stock up," she said.

She was waiting in line so she could get enough water to clean her dishes. Danchuk said she's grateful the situation isn't worse.

"At least we have power. We're better off than those poor people left sitting in the cold for a couple of days," she said, talking about the power outage that affected more than 300,000 people in Eastern Canada.

The water tank provided by the city can only hold so much, and once it dries up it can take up to two hours to get another one.

Ted Bisson, who works at a Shell gas station on Jefferson Avenue adjacent to the buildings affected by the broken water main, said many people came in Tuesday to buy water.

In one day, they sold almost half the amount of water they sold during the previous week.

Winnipeg Transit had to reroute buses 33, 34 and 36 due to the water-main break.

The City of Winnipeg said Wednesday the break affected a larger water main and a section of the pipe had to be replaced. The city hoped to have it done by today.

veronika.gorlova@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 2, 2014 A3

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Updated on Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 6:52 AM CST: Replaces photo, fixes pull quote

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