Thousands Still Without Power In Northeast

10:33 AM, Dec 26, 2013   |    comments
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Power is slowly being restored in Michigan and Maine, but tens of thousands of people who endured a dark Christmas could be without power until Friday night, despite round-the-clock efforts to get electricity flowing again.

About 128,000 customers were still without power in Michigan Thursday and almost 33,000 were still blacked out in Maine.

The American Red Cross provided warm shelter, food, blankets and water in Michigan's hard-hit Lapeer county, where about 12,000 remained without power. Another 116,000 customers were in the dark mainly in Genesee County.

DTE Energy said it has more than 1,500 workers -- including some 500 linemen from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio -- in the field to get power back on. Hundreds more workers were clearing lines of fallen tree branches.

Brian Wheeler, a spokesman for Consumers Energy in Michigan, said its teams work down a priority list, with hospitals, police and fire agencies, and radio and television outlets and telephone and communications organizations at the top, along with water and sewer facilities, the Lansing State Journal reports.

Next come repairs that affect the largest numbers of people, followed by high voltage lines, substations, primary distribution lines, transformers and secondary lines.

In Maine, Bangor Hydro Electric is advising people it will be the end of the day Friday before it's more than 11,000 customers all are back on line. The number has fluctuated as some people get power back while others lose it.

"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."

Central Maine Power, with more than 24,000 customers still in the dark early Thursday, hoped to get power back for most by the end of the day but acknowledged that some will still be without electricity on Friday. More than 100,000 were without power at the storm's peak.

More snow is expected Thursday in Maine and parts of Michigan, along with frigid temperatures that could keep ice from melting off power lines and tree branches, posing new risks for outages

Twenty-seven deaths have been blamed on the storm and cold, with 17 in the USA and 10 in Canada. Among those in Canada, seven were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning from people using generators or barbecues to stay warm after losing power and heat.

Joseph Van Dykes Jr., 68, of Holden, Maine, told the Bangor Daily News that his daughter, who lives in Massachusetts, "harassed" him into going into a shelter.

Van Dykes, who lives in a trailer park, spent part of Tuesday sitting in his running car to stay warm and to keep his breathing machine, which requires power, charged and working, the Daily News says.

"It's been good here," the former carpenter said of the shelter. "I call home every so often. When the answering machine comes on, I'll know I have power again."

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