SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

December 26, 2013

Coming snow could slow power restoration efforts

LITCHFIELD, Maine (AP) — The ice that snapped utility poles and knocked out power to more than half a million people in the U.S. and Canada was stubbornly hanging on yesterday as frigid temperatures cloaked a region from the Great Lakes to New England.

Utility crews from Maine to Michigan and into Canada made progress getting the lights back yesterday, and people were slowly trickling out of shelters to spend Christmas Day at their finally warm homes.

But the cold means ice isn’t melting off lines and limbs, and wind gusts of more than 20 mph could bring down more branches. Two to 6 inches of snow in places today will hamper line crews trying to get to remote spots.

“We’ve had two beautiful, sunny days in Maine, and the ice isn’t going anyplace,” said Lynette Miller, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency. “They’re very concerned about more weight coming down on trees that are already compromised by ice.”

Ashley Walter was still hunkered down with her husband, Jacob, and their month-old daughter, Leah, at a shelter set up in a school in Litchfield, Maine, where the temperature dropped to 4 degrees overnight and wasn’t expected to get much higher than 15 yesterday.

The family lost power Saturday, got it back temporarily, then lost it again Sunday and have been without since. Ashley, 27, and Leah stay warm at the shelter, while Jacob makes frequent trips home to check on their cats and water pipes.

Despite the challenge of being forced out of the house, especially at Christmas, the family is staying positive. Ashley made sure they celebrated the holiday.

“It’s definitely kind of strange, but we’re hanging in there,” she said yesterday. “We did our Christmas together last night. I packed little stockings and gave them to my husband, sisters and my daughter.”

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