More than 250,000 Maine homes and businesses remained without power late Tuesday night in the wake of a fierce storm that knocked out electricity across the state.

Though that is down from a peak of 484,000 outages at midday Monday, it could be several more days before power is fully restored, with the state’s two largest power companies expecting most customers to have electricity by Saturday.

Nearly two-thirds of Maine was left without power after the ferocious storm caused widespread damage Monday morning. The number of customers without power at midday Monday far exceeded the 270,000 outages during the devastating 1998 ice storm.

“We’re a resilient state and we’re used to severe storms,” said Peter Rogers, acting director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency. “It doesn’t make them any less devastating.”

Central Maine Power’s outages dropped from a high of 404,000 – roughly 65 percent of its 618,000 customers – to about 210,000 as of 12:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Emera Maine had reported more than 90,000 outages Monday. That number dropped to 44,817 by about 1 a.m. Wednesday.

More than 1,000 CMP employees worked on restoration efforts Monday and the utility company expected that workforce to grow to nearly 2,000 with the addition of hundreds of line and tree workers arriving Tuesday from as far away as Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Crews from Canada arrived before the storm and on Monday.

“We expect to make major progress today,” CMP President Sara Burns said during a MEMA briefing Tuesday morning. “Every part of our service area has been impacted.”

Areas that are hard to access or where there is extensive damage will take the longest to get back online, Burns said. The company began providing estimated restoration times for some residential and commercial customers late Tuesday.

Of the roughly 209,993 CMP customers without power as of 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, about 51,000 were in Cumberland County and 32,000 were in York County.

“Our crews are working as quickly and safely as possible and we ask people to refrain from approaching them with questions that can slow their work and create safety concerns,” said CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice.

MAKING THE BEST OF IT

Many of those without power Tuesday ventured out in search of coffee, fuel for generators and a place to charge cellphones.

At Bow Street Market in Freeport, business was steady all day. The store had to bring in an employee on her day off just to keep the coffee brewing.

A man named Michael who declined to give his last name sat at the counter charging his laptop and phone.

Asked whether the storm was a problem, Michael didn’t hesitate.

Map shows location and number of CMP customers without power as of 10:41 p.m. Tuesday. For latest real-time updates, click here.

“In the big picture, it’s a small hardship,” he said. “Times like this should let us remember how fortunate we all are.”

In Yarmouth, many stores and gathering places remained closed Tuesday. The Hannaford on Main Street was open but had only auxiliary power. Many stopped in to get water or other essentials.

Eugene Derry, 72, who lives nearby, said he has a wood stove if needed, and has plenty of food and books to read. He was only buying water so he could flush the toilet and brush his teeth.

“I won’t freeze or starve,” he said.

In Buxton, town hall was open for people to charge electronic devices, and water spigots are available at the Groveville and Chicopee fire stations. The Lebanon Fire and EMS building is open to charge cellphones and refill water containers. Fire officials in that southern York County town encouraged residents to be extra cautious while using generators and to check on elderly neighbors and anyone using oxygen.

In Portland’s Deering Center neighborhood, it became difficult for Danice Jacobson to leave her home on Westminster Avenue after a large tree – about 90 feet tall – fell on power lines that came to rest against the roof of her home, blocking her front door and knocking out her power at around 6 a.m. Monday.

“The tree is suspended on power lines,” she said.

Jacobson, who uses a walker to get around and takes medication that must be refrigerated, said Tuesday night that her medication has spoiled. She is unable to use her front door, but she and her service dog, Riley, can get out through a back door that connects with a wheelchair ramp.

Jacobson, 59, says she has contacted the city and CMP asking for help, but has been unable to reach a person. She keeps getting routed to a recorded message.

“I’d like to know that they know about me and plan to respond in some way,” Jacobson said in a telephone interview Tuesday evening. “I can’t sleep at night knowing that the tree is out there with live wires on it.”

ICE STORM COMPARISONS

Officials from state agencies and the power companies say the response to Monday’s storm has gone well when compared to the 1998 ice storm, which also left hundreds of thousands of Mainers without power. Burns, CMP’s president, said it is likely most homes and businesses will have power by Saturday, less than a week after the storm.

“If I was sitting here during the ice storm, I would have told you 22 days,” she said.

During the ice storm, CMP had to fix 2,600 broken poles. As of Tuesday morning, 400 broken poles had been reported, but Burns expected that number to double as crews continue to work.

Rail service between Brunswick and Boston was interrupted Monday because of downed lines and trees, and again Tuesday because of power outages along the line. Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, said the first three round-trips of the Amtrak Downeaster between Portland and Boston scheduled for Tuesday were canceled because of power outages.

When power is out at grade crossings, the train must stop so a conductor can get out and flag the train through. With more than 100 signals in Maine and New Hampshire without power, that is a slow process, Quinn said, adding that most service is expected to resume Wednesday. Updates will be posted on the Amtrak Downeaster website and on social media.

“We’re on standby and ready to go as soon as enough crossings have power,” she said. “We’re in limbo like everyone else.”

Julie Rabinowitz, press secretary for Gov. Paul LePage, said the governor will tour storm damaged areas Wednesday, likely the in Midcoast area.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this story.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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