Manitoba offering disaster aid to those affected by severe October snowstorm

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is offering disaster assistance to municipalities, homeowners, farms and small businesses pummelled by a vicious snowstorm in October.

More than 250,000 electricity customers lost power at some point as thick, heavy snow brought down tree limbs and power lines.

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The early blast of winter just before the Thanksgiving weekend moved Premier Brian Pallister to declare a state of emergency.

Pallister says the storm resulted in widespread damage and the financial aid will help with costs not covered by insurance.

The snow covered crops that farmers were still trying to harvest and also resulted in the Red River Floodway being used for the first time in the fall.

The province has already announced compensation related specifically to the floodway's impact.

"The (disaster financial assistance) program will help cover the costs of response and recovery from the overall weather event," Pallister said Thursday.

Manitoba Hydro said during the height of the storm that it had caused unprecedented damage to transmission lines and towers.

Among the hardest-hit areas was Portage la Prairie, a city of 13,000. Many people there were still without power three days after the storm first hit. City officials warned that sewage lift stations were operating on backup power and residents should not flush their toilets.

Several First Nations had to move seniors and other vulnerable people into a Red Cross emergency shelter in Winnipeg.

The provincial government asked all residents to avoid non-essential travel.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2020

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