Churchill declares state of local emergency after three days of blizzard

The Town of Churchill is getting ready to tackle the aftermath of a three-day blizzard that blanketed the community in snow and shut down some essential services.

The northern Manitoba town declared a state of local emergency on Friday evening, emerging on the other side of the winter storm that included 60 centimetres of snow and wind gusts of up to 120 km/h.

"It is evident there is significant cleanup work to be done that will impact the town's existing resources to complete this work and bring the community back to a state of normalcy," the town wrote in a release shared on Facebook.

The emergency declaration will allow the town to obtain additional resources and personnel for the cleanup effort, and gives it use of personal property "considered necessary to mitigate the effects of the emergency."

Churchill Mayor Mike Spence said he can't remember such a significant dump of snow in town in his lifetime. He said he's proud of how his community came together, from city staff working long hours to volunteer firefighters and local rangers helping to shovel residents out.

"It's been challenging. The community has responded very well," Spence said. "What a hearty community — this community has a lot of heart."

Spence said cleanup is underway but predicted a long road ahead. City roads are in the process of being cleared, but "we haven't even touched" backlanes or roads heading out of town.

The roof of the fire hall was also damaged in the storm, he added.

The town is asking residents to be patient as it tackles the white stuff, Spence said.

In the meantime, he said downtown Churchill has been transformed into a winter-scape.

"The snowbanks in some cases are about 10 feet high, 10 to 12 feet high, and the width of a loader. That's your route into some of those streets."

"As you're going along ... you're just seeing the rooflines, for instance. You're seeing vehicles that are just snowed in."