Dec 26, 2013 1:42 PM by David Randall

Still in the dark

Nearly 100,000 people in Maine still had no electricity following a messy weekend ice storm.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage of Maine declared a state of emergency, and shelters were open in many affected communities to give people a warm place to stay.

Dozens of line crews from other New England states are in Maine to help their counterparts with power restoration efforts.

Thick ice is still weighing down trees and pulling down power lines. Utility crews are exhausted as they raced to restore power to folks in Maine who are in the dark and may be for a few more days.

"We work 17 [hours] on, seven off," one line worker told WCSH-TV. "I go home at 6:00 at night; I'm back in at 1:00 in the morning."

Maine line workers were glad to be getting some help from New England utilities including the Public Service Company of New Hampshire.

PSNH line worker Justin Fysh said he volunteered to work through the holiday to help his counterparts in Maine connect those affected families.

"A lot of people don't have heat; pipes are going to start freezing," said Fysh. "The sooner we get up there, the better it's going to be for everybody."

To the western side of New England, in Vermont, firefighters in Fairfax were going door-to-door to check on residents.

The Fairfax firefighters were letting people know about the availability of Red Cross shelters and urging safe use of generators, after the death of a man in Albany, Vt. Monday.

That death was blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning from using a generator indoors.

Another man in Knox, Maine also was overcome by fumes from a generator and died, investigators there said.

Vermonters were also helping neighbors, by lending food and equipment.

"They were saying that if we needed them, we could get a hold of them for water and food supplies," said Kelsey Kaluzenberg, describing her neighbors' offers after she was left without power.

As for the dozens of crews helping connect Mainers, the companies of Northeast Utilities said they are glad to lend a hand to other power providers through widespread outages.

Crews from NSTAR and Western Massachusetts Electric Company were joining PSNH in going to Maine Tuesday night, fanning out from Augusta to the east and central part of the state.

"In the business we're in, that's important to get the customer back on. It's what we do," said Paul Ramsey of PSNH. "If you think of the customers who are out of power in that kind of cold environment, the urgency is even greater. We sense that so we'll be sending resources."



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