December 16, 2017
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Powerless in Bangor, area residents help each other stay warm and fed

By Emily Burnham, BDN Staff
Updated:

As day three without power dragged on for more than 40,000 Emera Maine customers in eastern Maine, residents of the Bangor area on Wednesday found ways to stay warm, fed, charged and clean.

With more than 5,200 households still offline in Bangor as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the effects of days without power were beginning to show — though hope was on the way, and several neighborhoods had begun to come back online Wednesday evening, with more to come.

Daily life was especially disrupted for families with children in the Bangor School Department, which did not hold classes on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Bailey Cormier, a 17-year-old senior at Bangor High School, didn’t mind the bonus days off from school — as a senior, she won’t have to make up the days at the end of the year. But as a resident of Little City, one of the neighborhoods most affected by the outages, she and her family and neighbors had to come together to help each other.

Cormier and her parents Shelley and Garth have a generator, and to spread the love, she brought their coffee maker out onto their front porch Wednesday morning and began making coffee for passersby.

“I wanted coffee, and I bet a lot of other people wanted it too. I’ve seen the lines at Dunkin’ Donuts. They are crazy,” she said. “Little City has always come together in weird times like this, so I’m not surprised that people reach out to each other. You can make good things out of a bad thing when you come together as a community.”

By late afternoon Wednesday, much of Little City had power restored. When Blackstone Street came back online, neighborhood kids rejoiced with an impromptu conga line, chanting “Power!”

“They were already outside playing … then they noticed lights came back on and they all spontaneously started singing,” said Eric Schaefer, a neighborhood dad to two boys.

Bangor Schools will reopen on Thursday, with a two-hour delay in the morning. Superintendent Betsy Webb recommended students dress in layers, as schools that have not had power will likely be a bit chilly.

“I just want to be prepared, because right now we have power in all schools except for Vine Street and Fairmount,” said Webb. “They are projected to have power back tomorrow, but still — we want to be sure.”

Bangor Parks and Recreation on Main Street and the Bangor Public Library were both open until 8 p.m. for heating and charging devices, and the James F. Doughty School on Fifth Street, the Bangor YMCA on Second Street and the Cross Insurance Center opened their doors and bathrooms to people in need of a hot shower.

“We had a young lady from Capehart here at 6 a.m., and she said, ‘My God, I’m just so glad to take a shower,” Carmen Montes, the Cross Center’s director of food and beverage, said late Wednesday morning. “We’ve had around 20 people or so come in so far.”

With no power to cook on electric stoves or keep perishables cold, many people turned to local restaurants for multiple meals per day. Lines stretched into the street on Tuesday and Wednesday morning at Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Horton’s and Starbucks locations throughout the area. Downtown Bangor never lost power, and employees at places such as Bagel Central and Giacomo’s reported some of the busiest mornings they’d ever experienced.

At Dysart’s Restaurant & Truck Stop on Coldbrook Road in Hermon, the wait on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for a table was much longer than usual — especially since the kitchen offered service to power crews before regular customers.

“It’s been absolutely crazy here. We’ve had power crews in and out, all day long. A lot of them are from New Brunswick. I personally served probably 45 people yesterday,” Gail Conway, a manager at the restaurant, said Wednesday. “We bagged up 100 lunches for them the first day, 140 yesterday and then 175 today.”


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