Three days after a fierce storm toppled trees and downed power lines across the state, Maine’s two largest power companies had restored electricity to more than two-thirds of the 484,000 customers who had lost it Monday.

As of early Thursday morning, Central Maine Power had restored power to nearly 300,000 customers in southern and central Maine since Monday, but still had roughly 107,000 homes and businesses without electricity, according the company’s website. In northern and Down East regions of the state, Emera Maine had restored electricity to more than two-thirds of its customers who’d lost power. The two companies expected most customers to have electricity by Saturday.

Officials at CMP say crews are working around the clock, with more than 1,800 employees working on restoration. Hundreds of line and tree workers arrived Tuesday from as far away as Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Crews from Canada are also working in Maine.

Of the 106,902 CMP customers who were without power as of 5:41 a.m.  Thursday, 19,664 were in Cumberland County and 13,379 were in York County, the company’s website said.

Emera Maine had reported more than 90,000 outages Monday. That number had dropped to 26,310 by 12:45 a.m. Thursday.

“This storm has been unprecedented; no single storm has caused a higher number of outages,” CMP President and CEO Sara Burns said in a statement Wednesday. “We restored service to more than 100,000 customer accounts yesterday and expect good progress today towards our Saturday goal to complete the restoration in all but a few remote or inaccessible locations.”

By Wednesday morning, CMP had started providing estimated restoration times for some customers. Most were either for Friday or Saturday at 10 p.m.

To date, 568 utility poles have been reported broken. Replacing them is a task that out-of-state crews are working on exclusively, officials said.

Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said officials have received reports of residents clearing downed trees with power lines still running through them. No injuries have been reported, but McCausland said doing so is “extremely dangerous, especially since power is being restored (at) a rapid pace.”

AMTRAK ON MODIFIED SCHEDULE

McCausland also reminded residents not to approach line crews. When that happens, the crews have to stop work for safety reasons, and that slows the restoration process, CMP officials and state police said.

The Amtrak Downeaster operated on a modified schedule Wednesday because power had not been restored to the entire service area. Train service was available for some runs, while buses were used to move other passengers between Maine and Boston. A full list of changes is available on the Amtrak Downeaster website, amtrakdowneaster.com.

State police asked drivers to use extra caution around railroad crossings because many are still without power, leaving signals and crossing gates inoperable.

Gov. Paul LePage visited Phippsburg on Wednesday to tour storm-damaged areas, meet with crews from CMP and New York working on lines, and thanked Amato’s employees who have made 1,000 lunches for power company employees.

More than 90 shelters across the state are offering residents a variety of services including food in some places, charging for electronic devices, hot showers, and a warm place to stay. A list of the shelters and what they offer is available at: maine.gov/mema/mema_masscare.shtml.

‘CUSTOMERS ARE LIKE FAMILY’

Dealing with the storm and its aftermath brought out the best in many Mainers.

At the Durham Get and Go, which hasn’t been able to take credit cards since the storm knocked out power, two employees started putting local customers’ gas purchases on their personal employee charge accounts Monday morning.

Upon learning of her employees’ action, store owner Donna Church opened up a charge account IOU board for anyone without cash who wished to use it. Church has done this in the past when the town has lost power in snowstorms.

“The customers are like family to us. We see them every day,” said Shannon Emerson, one of the employees who put customers’ gas purchases on her personal account.

Customers began returning first thing Tuesday morning to pay for the gas they had charged the day before.

The prolonged wait for power also challenged some residents’ patience.

In Buxton, where 2,230 of the town’s 3,906 CMP customers remained without power Wednesday at 11:25 p.m., resident James Lacortiglia said the routine of living off generator power was wearing thin. Lacortiglia said he is “beyond frustrated.” His lights went out at 5 a.m. Monday, when he listened to trees cracking and limbs snapping all around his home, he said. He heard around town that line crews were moving into his area Wednesday.

“No one likes doing this anymore,” he said. “I think the response from the electric company could have been better.”

Lacortiglia said CMP should hire more outside workers or call in extra shifts.

“Get it done,” he said.

As he filled two red plastic gas cans, watching the dollars tick over on the pump, Lacortiglia said he’s already spent $80 on fuel. He expects power to come back Wednesday evening, he said.

“You’ve got to keep on going,” he said. “You can’t let it get you down.”

Not everyone was ready to blame CMP.

Jennifer Tardif said she knows line crews are up against a massive amount of work.

“There’s trees down everywhere,” she said, as she gassed up her pickup truck at the Timberline Country Store in Buxton Wednesday.

She’s happy to deal with the inconveniences. Although Tardif has a generator, it only runs certain appliances, and that doesn’t include her well pump. She’s had to pack up dirty dishes to wash at a relative’s home. Her mother was doing her laundry.

Most difficult so far have been school cancellations. Her two youngest children, ages 6 and 8, have been home for three days. Luckily, Tardif’s employer has given her time off.

“The kids are the tricky parts,” Tardif said. “They’re bored out of their minds.”

‘INSTANT GRATIFICATION SOCIETY’

Businesses that were still open in York County saw steady streams of customers.

At Ed’s Grove hardware store in Lyman, a generator clattered under a red, white and blue “OPEN” flag, and inside, the aisles of wooden shelves were mostly dim. Clerks led customers to items by flashlight.

A power line downed by the storm still stretched across the asphalt parking lot.

But business for batteries, gas canisters, candles and blue plastic tarps was brisk, and cash-only, clerk Elaine Collomy said.

The store was overstocked on one particular item that was selling steadily, she said.

“My boss had a chance to get a bunch of extra gas cans, and he never thought he’d be able to sell them,” she said.

Outside the store, utility crews installed two new poles Tuesday, she said, but no one has come by to address the sagging power line.

Collomy chalked up some people’s impatience for power to a larger trend in the country.

“We’re an instant gratification society,” she said. “There’s only so many hours in a day.”

Sun Journal Staff Writer Andree Kehn contributed to this report.

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

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Twitter: grahamgillian

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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Twitter: MattByrnePPH