As many Mainers hunkered down for a second day without power, some businesses in southern Maine that had electricity were benefiting from a silver lining: They have been swarmed with customers clamoring for hot meals, gasoline, grocery staples or a hot shower.

Late Tuesday morning, more than 20 vehicles jockeyed for position around the eight pumps at the Irving gas station on Route 1 in Falmouth. Cars also were lined up at a similar gas station across the road, all seeking to fuel up at the handful of stations that had power.

The Irving station was selling three times more gas than it normally would and the attached Lil’ Mart convenience store had sold out of ice and propane and was running low on bottled water, assistant manager Bobbi-Jo Smith said.

“It’s been non-stop craziness, we ran out of gas and just got a delivery,” Smith said. “The line for pumps has been wrapped around the parking lot since 5 a.m.”

The Timberline Country Store in Buxton was running on a propane generator and only accepting cash, but streams of people had already come in since Monday morning for groceries, hot food and gas, manager Chris Fogg said. He made sure to order extra food, bottled water and ice to stay stocked until a scheduled resupply Thursday.

He’s also offering local residents use of the two showers at the store and giving free food to Central Maine Power crews. At one point Monday morning, there was a line of cars backed up onto Route 202 waiting to gas up, Fogg said.

“We have been extremely busy. We’re just about the only place in town that still has gas,” he said. The store received its fourth delivery of gas in less than 48 hours Tuesday afternoon – more than it usually goes through in an entire week.

The store will stay open, even though it couldn’t take debit or credit cards, he said.

“You get the occasional person who is upset because they can’t use their card or the ATM,” Fogg said. “Give us a little break, we are using a generator and doing the best we can under the circumstances.”

Drivers line up for gas at a Sunoco station on Route 1 in Falmouth on Tuesday. With so many businesses closed because of power outages, many businesses with power are swamped with customers. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Customers at the Home Depot on Riverside Street in Portland picked through an entrance display stacked with chainsaws, extra-large coolers, flasks of motor oil and plastic gasoline jugs.

The store sold out of its stock of generators Monday, was restocked Tuesday morning and sold out of that too, store manager John Twomey said. Other Home Depot locations in Maine were in the same situation, and the company was sending another shipment of PowerStroke 6,000-watt generators to the state Tuesday afternoon. Each store would get 45-50 generators, Twomey said, adding that the company has specialized merchandise teams who make sure enough product is in the pipeline to meet demand during and after severe storms.

“We have people who do nothing but storm buys to make sure it gets out to affected areas,” he said.

Hotels in the Portland area were filled with local residents looking for a hot shower and warm room for the night. The Ramada Plaza, on Riverside Street in Portland, was almost fully booked Monday and Tuesday nights, and many guests were from Portland and nearby towns, said Diane, a front-desk receptionist who declined to give her last name.

“When we have a storm like this, this always happens,” she said.

It was the same story at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott about 6 miles away on Payne Road in South Portland. About 80 percent of the guests who checked in Monday were locals, said Paul, a receptionist who also declined to give his last name.

But in some places, even the option of a hotel room for the night was off the table.

“We definitely have had people asking, but we are out of power and now water,” said Rachel Burke, who answered the phone at the Comfort Inn on Pleasant Street in Brunswick.

“We don’t really have a place to send them,” she added. “It seems like everyone we talk to is either full or without power.”

All the tables and counter seats were filled at Bernie’s Foreside, a breakfast and lunch restaurant on Route 1 in Falmouth, around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. There was a line for tables out the door for five hours Monday morning, said head server Judy Dyer. Tuesday was a little slower, but not by much – the line was four hours long, she said.

“It’s just been crazy,” Dyer said.

The racks are empty at Mr. Bagel in Falmouth on Tuesday morning. The franchise ordered twice as many bagels as usual for the day, in anticipation of high customer volume, and still sold out by 10 a.m. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

The Mister Bagel next door opened at 5 a.m. Tuesday, an hour early, to feed about 30 CMP employees before they went out on the road. By 10 a.m., the store had sold out of bagels, even though it ordered 300, double its normal order, owner Jennifer Shapiro said.

“I’d pay you 20 bucks for a shower,” joked one woman on her way to the counter to put in an order.

On Monday, the bagel shop closed at 1 p.m., an hour early, when it began running out of ingredients for items on its menu, manager Samantha Jerome said. She eventually took the phone off the hook because too many people were calling to find out if the shop was open.

“It’s just been straight out,” she said. “We’ve never seen it this busy.”

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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