PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — With frigid temperatures descending upon the region, cold and weary utility crews worked Monday to finish restoring electricity for customers who've been in the dark for more than a week as another winter storm takes aim at the region.
For John Phillips, an Ellsworth resident who has been living without electricity since the ice storm the weekend before Christmas, the novelty of living like "Little House on the Prairie" wore off long ago.
"Being without lights makes it pioneer-like," Phillips said Monday. "It gets old after a day or two, I can assure you."
A Sunday snowstorm caused an additional 6,000 power outages in Maine and brought the month's snow total in Portland to 26.2 inches, more than double the snowfall in the typical December.
And the new year could start the way the old one ended, with another snowstorm projected for Thursday and Friday.
The anticipated snowstorm brought the possibility of still more power outages for utility crews who've been run ragged since an ice storm that started the weekend before Christmas caused a slow-moving disaster. Subzero and single-digit temperatures Monday night were going to add to the misery.
"We're concerned about our crews. A lot of these guys are tired. They're away from their families. They're getting as much rest as they can but it takes a toll," said Bob Potts from Bangor Hydro Electric Co.
More than 100,000 utility customers lost power during the ice storm.
In eastern Maine, nearly 400 customers remained in the dark Monday night and Bangor Hydro expected to finish its restoration work by New Year's Day — 10 days after the power outages began.
Central Maine Power had restored power to all of those that lost it in last week's ice storm, but another 5,000 customers lost electricity Sunday night. All but about 700 customers had their power back by Monday night.