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Hydro workers return from T.O.

Grateful residents praised Manitobans

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
Monica Chase smiles as Wes Olafson and other Manitoba Hydro workers arrive back in Winnipeg Tuesday after helping restore power in Toronto after an ice storm.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press Monica Chase smiles as Wes Olafson and other Manitoba Hydro workers arrive back in Winnipeg Tuesday after helping restore power in Toronto after an ice storm.

Manitoba Hydro workers who sacrificed their Christmas holidays to help restore power for thousands in Toronto arrived home just in time to join their families and friends for New Year's celebrations.

December 31, 2013 - 131231  -  Manitoba Hydro workers arrive back in Winnipeg Tuesday, December 31, 2013 after helping to restore power in Toronto after an ice storm.  John Woods / Winnipeg Free Pressw

Enlarge Image

December 31, 2013 - 131231 - Manitoba Hydro workers arrive back in Winnipeg Tuesday, December 31, 2013 after helping to restore power in Toronto after an ice storm. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Pressw (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

The workers landed in Winnipeg around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday at Perimeter Aviation Terminal, welcomed by staff from Manitoba Hydro.

Brandon line maintenance supervisor Darin McMurdo said he was looking forward to seeing his family.

"I'm going to give my wife a big hug, and take a look under the Christmas tree to see what Santa Claus brought for me," he said.

He is one of 42 people who volunteered to help restore power to thousands of customers who were without light or heat after an ice storm struck Eastern Canada. The ice storm left over 300,000 people without power in Ontario, forcing the City of Toronto to send out a request for help to tackle the job.

The workers flew out of Winnipeg on Christmas Eve.

"I was thinking on the way home that maybe we'll have a Ukrainian Christmas this year," McMurdo said, since Ukrainian Christmas falls on Jan. 7.

Rick Jaslowski, 48, didn't hesitate when he volunteered to go restore power for the people of Toronto.

"They needed help, so that's what you do," he said. "If we needed help they would be there for us."

The workers weren't expected home until later in the week, but the work was done faster than expected and their services weren't needed anymore.

Jaslowski was hoping to surprise his wife Tuesday evening. "I didn't tell her I was coming home," he said, laughing.

Although Mike Tataryn has been working with Manitoba Hydro for 24 years, it was his first time helping out with hydro work out of province. He said the work they did in Toronto was nothing out of the ordinary.

"Our guys consistently do this kind of work around the province," Tataryn said.

All the workers said they had a great reception from people in Toronto and it made for a good experience.

"They were all out on the streets. Some people were in tears when their power came back on offering up coffee or baking, anything they had in the freezer," McMurdo said.

Jaslowski said when they told people they were from Manitoba, people were even more grateful.

"They thought the fact that we would take time away out of our lives, and be away from our families at this time of year was just amazing," he said.

"There was a lot of crying, and high-fiving," said Tataryn.

The last time Manitoba Hydro workers went east was in 1998 when Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick were coated in ice after three major ice storms.

veronika.gorlova@freepress.mb.ca

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