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Northeast’s Economy Shorted Out Long Grind Without Power Hits Maine, New York Farmers

John Nutting was dog tired Monday, after 11 days of getting up regularly in the middle of the night to make sure his livestock were surviving the cold.

Since the ice storm nearly two weeks ago that blacked out hundreds of thousands of people in the Northeast and Canada, Nutting had gotten service back for about 12 hours Sunday, then lost it again, he said by telephone.

“It’s just been a heck of a long, long grind, that’s all,” said the Democratic state senator from Leeds, who has been watching after about 90 cows and 80,000 chickens and keeping three generators running. “I’ve never been so tired in all my life.”

Maine utilities said about 22,000 business and residential customers were still without service Monday, less than one-tenth of the total during the peak outage. Utilities in upstate New York said they still had about 41,000 residential and business customers without power.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday it was drawing up guidelines to reimburse some of the hundreds of Maine residents who bought generators to survive the outage.

In addition to dairy farmers, maple syrup producers, apple and Christmas tree growers and poultry farmers all are expected to take a hit.

Nutting said he used three generators to keep his farm running, at a cost of about 150 gallons of fuel a day.

Dairy farmers in northern New York lost millions of dollars because they were forced to dump milk they could not process and because some cows died from not being milked.

Ann Howard, a third-generation dairy farmer in Harrison, Maine, had to get rid of 7,500 pounds of sour milk because she was without power for seven days.

“It’s just one of those things,” Howard said Monday. “It’s going to hurt us financially and it’s going to take some doing to overcome it, but it’s an act of God. It’s not anyone’s negligence.”

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