06/22/2017 12:10 EDT | Updated 06/22/2017 13:22 EDT

Manitoba eyes options to keep homes heated this winter in cut-off community

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is considering bringing in extra propane storage units to help people in Churchill get through the winter now that their rail service has been cut off.

Lee Spencer, with the province's emergency measures organization, also says Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro is looking to see whether some customers in Churchill can be switched from propane to electricity to help supplies last longer.

The subarctic community on the shore of Hudson Bay lost its only land link to the outside world this spring, when flooding damaged the rail line and washed away a lot of rail bed.

The railway's owners, Omnitrax Inc., have said it could be next spring before repairs are complete, and an assessment of the damage will take a few more weeks.

The town council has said it does not have enough propane storage capacity to keep homes and businesses heated through the long winter.

Without the rail line, food and other supplies must be flown in at higher cost or brought in by ship during the short ice-free season.