January 18, 1998 in Nation/World

Maine Turning On Light At The End Of The Tunnel Cold Hasn’t Let Up, But Crews Return Power To Thousands

Francis X. Quinn Associated Press
 

Clouds gave way to sunshine Saturday as utility crews labored in frigid cold to restore service to thousands of people in their 10th day without electricity.

Maine’s two largest electricity providers said Saturday that a few areas blacked out by last week’s ice storm were back on line or close to it, although some summer homes might not see electricity until spring.

“It’s quiet for the first time in days. We’re all enjoying that,” said National Guard Master Sgt. Allyson Cox at the state’s Emergency Management Agency headquarters.

However, the National Weather Service warned of dangerously low wind chills in southern and central Maine. Northerly wind gusting to 30 mph combined with temperatures in the teens to produce wind chills down to 20 below zero.

Maine’s biggest utilities said Saturday that they still had about 40,000 customers without power, down from a peak of nearly 400,000 a week ago.

Long-term relief efforts were stepped up Saturday as the federal Small Business Administration opened a disaster loan workshop in Lewiston, Maine.

Aides to Gov. Angus King manned phones at the State House in Augusta, referring callers with storm problems to various agencies and coordinating contacts between utilities and government departments.

“We’re here so that people who don’t have power don’t think everybody has given up,” said Kay Rand, King’s top assistant.

In northern New York state, about 61,000 customers were still waiting for power.

Crews in New York were hampered by a storm that piled as much as 18 inches of snow in their way on Thursday and Friday.

In addition to utility crews at work in New York, some 2,700 National Guard members were on duty Saturday making door-to-door surveys for people stranded without power, as well as delivering food, fuel and medical supplies. National Guard crews also resumed reconnaissance flights Saturday, after suspending the airborne searches on Friday because of the snowstorm.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email