October 19, 2020

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October storm impact pegged at $10M

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods</p><p>An early winter storm with heavy wet snow caused fallen trees, many on cars, and power lines in Winnipeg early Friday morning, October 11, 2019. A report presented to the city estimated cleanup and overtime costs from the storm would be about $10 million.</p>

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

An early winter storm with heavy wet snow caused fallen trees, many on cars, and power lines in Winnipeg early Friday morning, October 11, 2019. A report presented to the city estimated cleanup and overtime costs from the storm would be about $10 million.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/1/2020 (282 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The city's finance chairman was relieved to learn Friday of new — and much lower — projected costs of the massive October snowstorm that downed more than 30,000 trees in Winnipeg.

A report presented to the finance committee said estimated cleanup and staff overtime costs from the storm would be about $7.6 million altogether — or roughly $10 million when factoring in non-incremental costs already within the city's budget.

In October, Mayor Brian Bowman had said the storm costs could be in the tens of millions.

"It is a relief. And I can appreciate perhaps why some of the early numbers were so high," said Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James). "There's so much unknown (when) you're in the midst of, our staff is in the midst of cleanup, in the midst of still assessing the impact of the storm."

Cleanup costs largely fell to the public works department, which was responsible for tree pruning and debris pickups to the tune of about $6.9 million.

Crews and machinery from Toronto, Saskatoon, Regina and Calgary also pitched in with help. Invoicing from other cities is still in the works, but estimated to cost Winnipeg about $900,000.

Jay Shaw, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service assistant chief, said there were a few reported injuries related to the storm, including several slip and falls, a report of a dog being electrocuted, and a person being critically injured after a tree fell on their head and neck.

More injuries were likely avoided thanks to helping hands from other cities, he said.

"When you look at the regular day-to-day calls we would get for downed power lines, and then when you look at from what the storm response was, there was no way to safely mitigate that without additional help," Shaw said.

The City of Winnipeg submitted an application for disaster financial assistance (DFA) to the province Oct. 28. Civic administration said it has not yet received a response, though there is no deadline for when a program could be announced.

A provincial spokesperson said by email the Manitoba government is still assessing impacts of the storm, and couldn't provide a timeline for when — or if — it will establish a DFA program.

The spokesperson noted government will keep working with communities on recovery methods and consider any DFA applications, if such a program is set up.

Shaw said the main lessons learned as a result of the Oct. 9-13 storm were to "think big" and "work with your partners." He expects future weather events to test Winnipeg's emergency preparedness even more.

"As you know what's happening in Australia right now, we have Canadian (and) a conglomerate of different countries assisting in Australia with the wildfires," he said. "These disasters are getting larger and more complex. And Winnipeg is no different."

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

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