First Nations in southern Manitoba prepare for power outages from massive winter storm

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First Nations in southern Manitoba prepare for power outages from massive winter storm's Profile


Jacqueline Daniels says previous storms and power outages have taught her how to prepare for a winter storm bearing down on Manitoba Tuesday.

Daniels lives in Long Plain First Nation, about 100 kilometres west of Winnipeg. Her region is under a blizzard warning, with 30-50 centimetres of snow expected across southern Manitoba, and winds gusting up to 70 km/h. The storm is expected to begin Tuesday night and last until Friday.

“I have four little ones in the house. So, you know, I’m worried about their safety,” she said. 

Her grandchildren are two, three, five and six years old. 

“I have food stocked up. I’m getting water. I have enough blankets. We have candles, we have everything prepared if there’s an outage.”

She said she bought extra milk, bread, cereal and fruit to last for at least five days.

Daniels has lived in the community for 14 years and said there was a tornado in 2016 that ripped roofs off homes and more recently, she lost power to her home for five days after a winter storm in October 2019, and was evacuated to a hotel in Winnipeg.

Jacqueline Daniels (left) lives with her grandchildren in Long Plain First Nation. She says the October 2019 storm knocked out the power at her home for five days, and that this time they are better prepared for an outage. (Clarence Henry)

“I’m worried, not so much about the snow, but of the potential for a power outage,” she said.

“I don’t want to see my grandchildren cold,” said Daniels.

Long Plain Chief Dennis Meeches said previous storms have made the community better prepared for emergencies.

“If it was anything like the October storm that happened a few years back here, it’ll be really challenging,” said Meeches, who said he received over 4,400 text messages during that period.

He said the band is fortunate to own a hotel at its urban reserve in the nearby city of Portage La Prairie and that 20 suites have been booked for elders and those with medical conditions, in case of an emergency.

Meeches said the First Nation has a communications plan which includes social media messaging, as well as plans to use their local radio station.   

“I think we should be good to go,” said Meeches.

Volunteer crews on standby

In Sagkeeng First Nation, 100 kilometres east of Winnipeg, chief Derek Henderson said there is a detailed plan in place in case of an emergency.

“Be prepared for the worst … have extra water just in case,” said Henderson. 

He said the First Nation has dealt with a couple of power outages this winter.

“It can be life threatening for some people that are sick, some of the elderly … but we’ve been through this many times so we know exactly what needs to be done,” said Henderson.

Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson says they have a detailed emergency plan in place in case of a power outage. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Marshall Laurence, emergency management co-ordinator for Waywayseecappo First Nation, about 300 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said he is glad the storm is happening in the spring and not in the middle of the winter.

“We’re telling our community members to be prepared and have enough supplies for 72 hours,” said Laurence.

Laurence said Waywayseecappo’s heavy equipment operators are on standby for road clearance and the community’s 75-plus person volunteer pool has been notified to be ready in case of an emergency. 



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