Some central Maine school districts were reporting they had regained power by Thursday and had lost only one day, Monday, to the storm. Gov. Paul LePage’s declaration of a state of emergency does not mean that school days do not have to be made up, and those school districts contacted by the Morning Sentinel indicated that storm days off would be treated like snow days that have to be made up.

At least one little boy from Smithfield was glad to be attending preschool at the shelter where he was staying in Norridgewock, while a family in Rome was making do at home with the resources available to them, although the children had not been to school all week.

Patricia Hopkins, superintendent of School Administrative District 11, which includes Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner, notified parents, students and the staff Thursday that the school days missed on Monday and Tuesday have to be made up the same way snow days do.

In Alternative Organizational Structure 92, the Kennebec Valley Consolidated Schools, the lone school remaining closed was Vassalboro Community School, which had been closed a total of four days. The other schools in the Waterville and Winslow-based district were open.

In Fairfield-based School Administrative District 49, Superintendent of Schools Dean Baker said the district’s schools were all closed Monday. On Tuesday, just Albion and Clinton Elementary schools were closed. On Wednesday, just Clinton was closed, and by Thursday all schools were open.

Baker said it’s challenging to have to call three emergency days off before winter even starts and said his district will have to look for ways to make up days. Alloted three snow days, the district will apply for waivers from the Maine Department of Education. Should additional days off be required, the district could make time up by increasing the length of school days, calling for makeup days on weekends, or tacking on the days after the school year ends.

“We haven’t had to do it in several years, so there isn’t a standard response,” Baker said.

In Farmington-based Regional School Unit 9, Superintendent of Schools Tom Ward said the district lost just one day because of the storm and would count it as a snow day.

At Skowhegan-based Regional School Unit 54, Superintendent of Schools Brent Colbry said his district also lost just one day, the Monday of the storm.

Mill Stream Elementary School in Norridgewock was closed Wednesday, as it served as an emergency shelter for the American Red Cross, providing cots, hot meals, showers and places to charge devices for area residents. Colbry said that day wouldn’t be counted as a snow day.

The school was back in session Thursday and served two purposes for one family that needed its shelter services while their little boy got to go to school.

SCHOOL AT THE SHELTER

Thousands of Mainers are still without power because of the damage wrought by Tropical Storm Philippe. The Upton family, Matt, Cathy, son David and daughter Sarah, has been staying at the emergency shelter in Norridgewock since Tuesday night.

“It’s been fine,” Upton said of his family’s stay at Mill Stream Elementary School. “The Red Cross has done everything they can.”

Aside from the inconvenience of having to stay someplace other than home, Upton said one of the biggest downsides is that all the food in their refrigerator has spoiled and will have to be thrown away. Upton said he and his family had been struggling financially. On Sunday, they had prepared food that was supposed to last into the week.

“I’ll have to throw it all away,” he said.

The Uptons, who live in Smithfield, lost power Monday morning but stayed at their home that night. Matt Upton described it as fun for the family that first night, but they decided to come to the shelter on Tuesday afternoon when the power hadn’t returned and the temperature started to drop. He said they couldn’t heat the house, so they came to the shelter to keep the children safe. David arrived home that day with a flyer for the shelter in his backpack.

Matt Upton said that the family was planning to stay with his wife’s family in Fayette on Thursday if they found they were still without power. They were planning to go check to see if they had power after their son got out of school for the day.

MAINERS MAKING DO

For others though, a shelter was not available. In Rome, on Wooster Hill Road, that was the case for Uria Pelletier and his family.

Pelletier said they lost power Monday and were relying on candles and lanterns for light. The water pumps weren’t working, so he and his family have improvised.

“There’s a brook in the backyard,” Pelletier said from his home Thursday afternoon. “I go down in the morning and brush my teeth.”

Pelletier said the town was a mess after the storm. His two children, Uria and Nahdia, haven’t been to school yet this week.

But even without power, Pelletier said things haven’t been so bad. In fact, he thought it was a good experience for his family and said there should be a “rolling blackout.”

“You take a step back; nothing is important,” he said.

Pelletier’s wife, Angela, said the hardest thing for her husband has been his inability to get in bids for his contracting work. But Pelletier himself said the hardest thing was just not being able to take a hot shower.

“We’ve done it before, bathe in the brook,” he said, laughing.

The Pelletiers’ home used to have a wood stove, but they took it out last year when converting to a new heating system. Angela said it would have been nice to have that stove to boil water and cook food.

While they did buy bottled water, they have been relying on whatever restaurants are open for food, and the restaurants are packed.

“We were not prepared,” Pelletier said of an hourlong wait at a nearby restaurant.

Every store they went to, trying to find a generator, was sold out.

“Everyone was out of everything,” he said.

Though they knew the forecast had called for heavy wind and rain, they said the size and scope of the storm took them by surprise.

“It was candles and Milwaukee cordless tools,” he said after the blackout.

The family knows others are suffering more than just the inconvenience of no lights and long waits at restaurants. Pelletier visited a friend who has a farm in Skowhegan with his daughter the other day. The friend is a dairy farmer. Without power, he had no way to milk his cows, and the cows were nearing a dangerous level of need. Ultimately, the friend rented a generator large enough to milk his cows, and then took his generator around to other dairy farmers in similar situations.

“It can always be worse,” Pelletier said.

The family wasn’t sure when the power might come back fully, but the generator has helped. When trying to recall what they did to keep busy during the blackout days, things were fuzzy. Angela said the first two days were spent trying to find a generator. By Thursday evening, they had finally hooked one up.

“You lose track of the days when nothing really matters,” Pelletier said.

OAKLAND STEPS UP

The town of Oakland is acting on the premise that its residents really do matter.

Starting Thursday, the Oakland Fire Department and the Oakland Police Department will be visiting everyone in town who does not have their power back on to make sure residents are safe and have their basic needs fulfilled.

Among the services the town will be providing will be a warming shelter in the Cascade Room in the police station that will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. until further notice.

Water will be available at the Oakland fire station, Oakland Police Department and the Oakland Town Office, but residents must bring their own containers.

If people are not able to drive themselves to the fire station, police station or Town Office, they can call the Oakland Police Department at 465-2202 to arrange transportation.

If residents have a fallen tree that is preventing them from using a vehicle, they should call the Town Office at 465-7357 to arrange for the Public Works Department to remove it as long as it is not tangled in power lines and is not a danger for workers to remove.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis