10/05/2012 09:05 EDT | Updated 12/05/2012 05:12 EST

Hydro crews working to restore power to thousands in southeast Manitoba

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Hydro crews were working to restore power to thousands of people in southeastern Manitoba after an early snowstorm downed trees and power lines.

Scott Powell of Manitoba Hydro said more than 4,600 customers were without power in the Piney, Vita, St. Pierre areas and throughout the Whiteshell, Pointe du Bois, Bird Lake, Falcon Lake, Hadashville and West Hawk Lake regions.

"We have widespread damage, too, not just to our feeder lines, but individual distribution lines throughout the southeast," Powell said Friday.

Some people had been without electricity since noon Thursday.

About a dozen people in the small village of Sundown were being moved to Vita for food and warmth.

Jim Swidersky, reeve for the rural municipality of Stuartburn, said residents were being transported in a school bus.

Earlier this week, residents in Vita and Ross were forced from their homes due to wildfires.

Hydro crews will have to replace more than 125 power poles in the southeast, Powell said.

All the damage is weather related, he said, with up to seven centimetres of ice on some lines.

"All of our available resources, field crews are heading into the area. We have extra crews coming in from the Interlake, Brandon, Winnipeg, construction crews, line maintenance crews, pole crews, so we're putting our maximum available resources into the area to assist our local staff with restoration efforts."

Powell asked people to be patient as crews were doing their best to get the situation resolved.

RCMP advised against travel in the Steinbach area, saying roads were snow covered and visibility was poor.

Brad Milne of Manitoba Infrastructure said there was a travel advisory for the Trans-Canada Highway east of Highway 12. He said blowing snow was making it especially treacherous near the Ontario boundary.

There were also reports of vehicles in ditches along the westbound lanes of Highway 1 near Prawda.

Environment Canada was forecasting the snow would taper off by noon, but the wind was expected to remain strong.