April 07, 2020
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The state is back online. How these Mainers survived the internet outage

Mainers woke up Saturday morning to a dazzling world, where every branch, blade of grass and pine needle was encased in a sheath of ice.

Some also learned that internet and cable was back on for most in the state after an ice storm knocked out service on Friday. Spectrum cable TV and internet customers in Maine and New Hampshire were out of luck when the fiber optic network that carries service to northern New England suffered two breaks after 3 p.m. as a result of the ice storm, according to Lara Pritchard, a spokesperson for Spectrum.

Damage from the storm, including live power wires and downed trees, made it difficult for crews to get to and work on the sites, she said, adding that the company does not release the location of its networks.

Service was restored to its customers before 10 p.m. Friday, she said. In the interim, Mainers who couldn’t watch cable, binge shows on Netflix or stream music services such as Spotify, got creative.

Some kept it simple, spending the evening reading books and snuggling with their pets. Others burned through their phone data to complain about the internet outage on the internet. But others reveled in the break from an uber-connected world. They dusted off board games, pulled DVDs out of storage to watch old favorites and taught youngsters how to use vintage Ataris. They listened to radio stations such as Maine Public Broadcasting, where hosts raising money during the winter pledge drive didn’t miss the chance to point out that even without the internet, the station was still on the air.

Some got to work, including Kristine Wentworth of Belfast, who said she ordinarily would have been working on her finances online, but instead cleaned her house, specifically scrubbing the grout lines on her floors.

Mabel Minner-Eastman, 11, of Bucksport reorganized the kitchen pantry.

“She’s been inspired by Marie Kondo,” her mother, Brook Ewing Minner, said.

Katie Hackett Jewel, a teacher from Brewer, made cookies, did laundry, corrected papers and did planning. April Nickerson of Searsport worked on remodeling a dollhouse, and after the battery died in her Dremel power tool, watched a DVD of “Mars Attacks.” Patty Pendergast of Thorndike said that the cable and internet outage was hard on her elderly mother, but not for her.

“I had the town budget, Vanity Fair and seed catalogs in a warm house with electricity. No hardship here,” she said.

Others simply went to bed early. But probably only one Mainer spent the evening like Jacki Cassida of Belfast. She was helping her husband, a taxidermist, make a bearskin rug. Cassida said that even if the internet had been working, she would have sewed the felt for the rug.

“It’s my contribution to his taxidermy work,” she wrote in a Facebook message. “However, it’s very likely I would have had my Kindle set up with my headphones on so I could Netflix while I sew. I got it done way faster with unavailable internet!”


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