Ice storm: from Maine to Midwest, more than 100,000 still without power

Monday's ice storm still has the upper Midwest and northern New England reeling, with crews expected to work into the weekend to restore power. Then, another storm could arrive.

Greg DeRuiter/Lansing State Journal/AP
Employees of K & T Electric replace an electrical box and pole to a home in DeWitt Township, Mich., Monday. From Michigan to Maine, residents are still feeling the effects of a massive ice storm.

More than 100,000 people remain without power Thursday, days after an ice storm hit the upper Midwest and swept through western Maine. With power companies struggling through harsh winter conditions, service might not be fully restored until the weekend. In the meantime, some customers are taking refuge in hotels and emergency shelters to remain warm.

Christmas Day temperatures fell to minus-24 degrees F in upper Michigan, according to the National Weather Service, with ice covering power lines and tree branches. The state’s largest utility, Consumers Energy, reported Thursday that 89,250 customers are without power, which represents nearly 20 percent of the company’s entire consumer base. During the storm’s peak early Monday, more than 500,000 customers from the Midwest to Maine were without power.

The mass outages in Michigan are the largest for Christmas week in the company's 126-year history. Workers from as far away as Georgia and North Carolina are en route to Flint, Mich., which was hit hardest by the storm. To date, 17 people in the United States have died as a result of the storm, with an additional 10 in Canada.

According to the Flint Journal, some families spent Christmas morning in area hotels. Jill Ghantous and her young children moved from their Swartz Creek, Mich., home to a Wingate by Wyndham hotel late Tuesday. Along with purchasing a small tree for the room, the family hung a sign on the window to let Santa know they relocated, and they hung their stockings on the dresser.

“I guess we can kind of pull Christmas out of nothing. You just get resourceful and try to make it the best you can,” Ms. Ghantous said.

After hitting Michigan, the frigid air moved west into northern New England and Canada. In Maine, about 123,000 Central Maine Power Company customers lost power earlier this week; by Thursday, about 30,000 households remained in the dark. The company says it aims to restore all power by Thursday evening but warns that it may not be possible.

Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service says that its 101,000 outages in the eastern part of the state are the largest number since 1998. By late Wednesday, about 17,000 of its customers remained without power.

While temperatures in Maine will rise Friday to freezing, or slightly above, according to the National Weather Service, that will not be enough to melt the ice. Also complicating recovery is a storm expected Thursday evening that will bring 3 to 6 inches of accumulation across the eastern part of the state, according to AccuWeather.

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

The storm also hit neighboring states. Heavy ice cut power to 900 Vermont households Wednesday; about 700 remain without power Thursday, according to the Vermont Electric Cooperative, which does not expect full restoration until the weekend.

“My heart goes out to the families who are struggling to get by without electricity. This storm has been frustrating for all involved,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a statement Wednesday.

With recovery efforts in all areas affected by the ice storm expected to wrap up by Saturday, a second wave of winter weather is expected Sunday night and Monday. AccuWeather forecasts snow showers and heavy winds through Michigan late Sunday while a separate storm moving up the eastern seaboard is expected to dump heavy snow in eastern Maine.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.