Sometime Monday morning, the number of Mainers without power because of a terrific wind storm exceeded even the peak of the 1998 ice storm. As Gov. Paul LePage declared a state of emergency, Central Maine Power, which oversees the bulk of the outages, said it was concentrating on the dangers of downed live wires, and that any restoration of power was going to have to wait, perhaps for days.

While there’s neither an inches-thick sheet of ice nor freezing temperatures to contend with, that long of a power outage will be a significant hardship for many Mainers, including seniors whose health and mobility issues make an extended loss of electricity isolating. We hope that people reach out to their neighbors, just as they did during the ice storm, to make sure everything is OK, if only to provide comfort and companionship.

Just as there was during the ice storm, there are people who need neighborly help. The late-night storm, with winds topping out at nearly 70 mph in some spots, caused a lot of damage, scattering anything not tied down, ripping off roofs, and knocking down wires and trees. Lots of trees. So many trees.

By Monday afternoon, CMP was reporting nearly 400,000 customers without power, with Emera reporting an additional 80,000 without power. Many people will not have power until the end of the week, CMP said.

That will leave a lot of Mainers without a working refrigerator, oven, microwave or toaster. Many won’t have heat or hot water. Certainly, you can forget about TV or the internet.

For seniors who are homebound or alone, those can be excruciating long days. They can also be unhealthy, even dangerous.

During the ice storm, when some areas went three weeks without power, many Mainers took things into their own hands. Neighbors checked on neighbors, clearing debris and ice from walkways and driveways. Churches and schools opened as shelters, offering food and companionship. One radio station broadcast requests from listeners for items like firewood.

As the Maine Emergency Management Agency said on the 10th anniversary of the storm, “The overwhelmingly positive outcome of the ice storm was the knowledge that Maine people, even in the face of this level of disaster, possess the greatest resource possible: each other. ‘Neighbor helping neighbor’ may well have saved lives. Neighbors working together certainly helped hundreds of families to weather the enormous stress of the storm and its aftermath.”

The damage and disruption from this latest storm will hardly be as calamatious, but the response should be no less kindhearted. For reasons of health, loneliness and distance, a portion of Maine’s senior population is always vulnerable, and they are particularly so in the aftermath of a storm. Mainers should think of those folks over the next few days, and try to do something to make that time less trying.

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