GRAY, Maine — Thousands of Mainers who spent Christmas without electricity because of last weekend’s ice storm may be without power through the weekend — and in some cases, until as late as the middle of next week.
Bangor Hydro crews were continuing to work around the clock Thursday to restore electricity. By 9 p.m., the number of outages stood at more than 8,900, with nearly 5,700 of those customers in Hancock County, according to spokeswoman Susan Faloon.
Meanwhile, Central Maine Power spokesman John Carroll said that as of 9 p.m., power had been restored to all but about 11,600 customers, with most of those in Kennebec County.
“[Wednesday], our goals were to keep all our crews safe, working, and well-fed on Christmas Day, while getting our outage count below 30,000,” Carroll said earlier in the day. “We met those goals, but progress [Thursday] could be slower because it’s snowing and at this stage in the recovery, many crews are working in a lot of remote areas where the roads are narrow or barely passable.”
Mother Nature certainly isn’t helping restoration efforts, as a snowstorm was expected to bring 3 to 7 inches of new snow to parts of the state Thursday and early Friday morning.
A winter weather advisory was in effect until 1 a.m. Friday from as far south as Boothbay Harbor and Wiscasset, up the coast into Washington County, and into Penobscot County, according to the National Weather Service.
Faloon said poor travel conditions and snow falling onto trees are hampering restoration efforts.
Power isn’t expected to be restored in some parts of Penobscot County until Sunday and in Washington County until Saturday. Faloon said some of Bangor Hydro’s Hancock County customers might not see their power restored until as late as the end of the day next Wednesday.
The heaviest snowfall was expected to occur during the afternoon and evening hours, according to the weather service.
The added weight of snow on ice-laden trees could cause additional power outages.
Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative has made progress in restoring power to affected customers in Washington County, but about 1,000 were still without electricity Thursday morning, spokesman Charles McAlpin reported. That figure was down from 3,200 customers who were without power as of midday Tuesday.
The cooperative’s crews worked through Christmas to mend downed power lines, McAlpin said.
The remaining EMEC outages were in the communities of Robbinston, Charlotte, Cooper, Marion and Cathance, which are located between Calais and Machias.
The cooperative said it hopes to restore power to all customers by Saturday.
“I’m hoping it will be earlier than that,” said McAlpin. “The snow today could complicate things.”
The Red Cross has been operating an emergency shelter at Washington County Community College in Calais since Monday evening for overnight stays and warming during the day, but only a small handful of people have availed themselves of it, according to Clement Deveau, the volunteer manager.
The U.S. Postal Service is encouraging people who are out shoveling to make sure paths are clear around mailboxes.
“If we cannot reach your mailbox, we cannot deliver your mail,” said U.S. Postal Service District Manager John Powers.
Bangor Hydro also announced later Thursday that planned service interruptions scheduled for Friday have been canceled so crews can focus on storm restoration efforts.
The service interruptions were scheduled in the Lincoln, Lee and Winn areas.
The snow is expected to be light and fluffy but could become wet near the coast as temperatures rise throughout the day.
BDN writers Tim Cox and Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.