Paul Killam was on his way to Waterville on Wednesday morning to get supplies for his girlfriend’s business, the Touch of Love Restaurant on Main Street in Fairfield, when he saw a group of women struggling to shovel out the thick layer of snow that the previous day’s powerful nor’easter had left in their driveway.

Their house is next to a field, Killam noticed, so wind had piled the snowdrifts up deep. Killam, 53, of Clinton, has a plow attached to his pickup truck, so he decided to stop and help them out free of charge.

“If I see someone who’s stuck, I stop to help them,” he said later Wednesday. Someone else with a plow had done a “few swipes” at the Fairfield restaurant Tuesday night, so he was “just paying it forward.”

People across central Maine were digging out from more than a foot of snow Wednesday after a blizzard that pounded the state and dumped nearly 20 inches of snow in some areas.

The storm moved into Maine early Tuesday, and by afternoon the Augusta and Waterville areas were experiencing a blizzard, with high wind gusts and less than a quarter-mile of visibility, which created hazardous driving conditions. The fierce storm raged through Tuesday night before winding down during the wee hours Wednesday.

Most schools in central Maine opted for a two-hour delayed start to school this morning to give time for people to dig out at homes and school buildings.

Waterville set a record for the amount of snowfall on March 15, according to the National Weather Service in Gray, reaching 15 inches. That’s more than double its previous record of 6 inches for snowfall on March 15, set in 1958. The Waterville record is set for Wednesday, March 15 — even though most of the snowfall happened on March 14 — because the city’s readings were taken at 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to the weather service.

Augusta got a total 16 inches in the storm. The weather service didn’t know if Maine’s capital city had set a single-day snowfall record, because there isn’t enough historical data.

Portland and Concord, New Hampshire, also set records for the amount of snowfall for March 14, as their readings are taken around midnight. Portland recorded 16.3 inches of snow, breaking its 1961 record of 10.6 inches. Concord more than doubled its 1984 record of 6.6 inches, accumulating a total of 15.6 inches, meteorologist Tom Hawley said.

In Waterville, wind gusts reached 44 mph at 6:52 p.m., Hawley said, while Augusta had wind up to 61 mph by 6:11 p.m.

“Certainly a 61 miles per hour wind gust can bring trees down and things like that,” Hawley said. “That could certainly peel shingles off a roof if the roof isn’t covered in snow.”

Strong sustained wind also knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers across Maine, including a few thousand in Kennebec and Franklin counties. Power had been restored to most central Maine customers by Wedmesday morning.

Central Maine Power Co. had its first outages around 1 p.m. Tuesday, said Gail Rice, spokeswoman for the company. While southern Maine, especially southern York County, was hit the hardest with outages, Kennebec County had 5,600 people without power at its peak, she said. About 440 customers lost power in Somerset County.

“This is blizzard conditions. This was three hours of very high winds, and when you get that, it can cause problems,” Rice said. CMP had staged crews throughout the state in preparation for the storm, but many had to pull back Tuesday night as weather conditions worsened.

Rice said their goal is to restore service to 90 percent of customers by late Wednesday evening. The rest of the work will be done Thursday, she said.

The Waterville Public Works crew worked through the night to clear the streets, and everything seems to have gone smoothly despite the whiteout conditions, said department Director Mark Turner. “The storm was very difficult in terms of visibility, and the intensity of the storm, for several hours, made it difficult for the crews,” Turner said. While the roads were mostly empty, Turner said there was some heavy commuter traffic around 6 p.m.

On Wednesday, the department was clearing sidewalks and checking the main roads around town, he said. The crew plans to haul snow from the downtown area to its dump overnight on Thursday.

Forecasts call for more a chance of more snow this weekend — probably a few plow-able inches.

“If there is a next one, we’ll be ready for that, too, this weekend,” Turner said.

In Winslow, things are also going smoothly for the Public Works Department. The crew worked through the night and didn’t run into any problems, said office assistant John Delile. Trash pickup is also on time today.

While Waterville police had 13 storm-related accidents over the last 24 hours, Deputy Chief Bill Bonney said, none resulted in serious injuries or damages. Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols said his area hadn’t had any serious accidents, either — just a few cars that slid off the road.

Portland Press Herald staff writer Gillian Graham contributed reporting.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

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Twitter: @madelinestamour