May be Friday before power restored in some areas
LITCHFIELD, Maine (AP) -- Some people in the United States and Canada who have been without electricity since Saturday may not get their lights back on for another day.
That could change as more snow creeps into Maine and parts of Michigan and cold temperatures keep ice from melting off power lines and tree branches, posing new risks for outages.
Bangor Hydro Electric in Maine is advising people it will be the end of the day Friday before it's more than 11,000 customers all are back on line. The number has fluctuated as some people get power back while others lose it. The utility said downed trees are the biggest problem facing line crews.
"We've had two beautiful, sunny days in Maine and the ice isn't going anyplace," said Lynette Miller, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency. "They're very concerned about more weight coming down on trees that are already compromised by ice."
Central Maine Power, with more than 30,000 people still without power as of late Wednesday, hoped to get power back for most by the end of the day Thursday but acknowledged some will still be without electricity on Friday. More than 100,000 were without power at the storm's peak.
From 2 to 6 inches of snow could fall in parts of Maine on Thursday.
Ashley Walter, 27, was still hunkered down with her husband, Jacob, and their month-old daughter, Leah, at a shelter set up in a school in Litchfield, Maine. The family lost power on Saturday, got it back temporarily then lost it again Sunday and have been without since.
Despite the challenge of being forced out of the house, especially at Christmas, the family was staying positive.
"It's definitely kind of strange but we're hanging in there," Ashley Walter said Wednesday. "We did our Christmas together last night. I packed little stockings and gave them to my husband, sisters and my daughter."
Trudy Lamoreau was supervising the emergency shelter where about 25 people stayed Tuesday night. Lamoreau, who's also the town manager, said they warmed the shelter with generators until the school got power back late Tuesday night.
"People are doing quite well considering the circumstances," she said.
In Michigan, about 139,000 people were still without power Wednesday afternoon, down from more than 500,000 at the storm's peak.
With no power at their home, Jill Ghantous and her family from Swartz Creek, Mich., opened their presents Wednesday morning at a hotel in Genesee County's Grand Blanc Township, southeast of Flint.
The family members took the Christmas stockings from their home and hung them from a dresser in the hotel room.
They also bought a small tree for the room, said Ghantous, whose children are 10 and 6.
"I guess we can kind of pull Christmas out of nothing," Ghantous told MLive.com. "You just get resourceful and try to make it the best you can."
So far, authorities blame the storm for 27 deaths; 17 in the U.S. and 10 in Canada, including five who apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
In Canada, about 160,000 customers were without power Wednesday. There were 72,000 customers without power in Toronto, down from 300,000 at the height of the outages, and Mayor Rob Ford said some may not have power restored until the weekend.
Associated Press writers David Goodman in Detroit and Rik Stevens in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.