I’m feeling a bit of survivor’s guilt.

Wednesday was the third day I had come to the office to learn several of my co-workers are still without power.

Some had generators; some did not.

Therefore, they lost food in their refrigerators and freezers, not to mention larger freezers packed with meat, vegetables they harvested from their gardens and other food that would have taken them into the winter.

The fierce rain and wind that swept through the Northeast Oct. 29 and 30, knocking down power lines, dropping trees on houses and flooding roadways spared my neighborhood. We were lucky.

First, half the state was without power. Schools closed, Halloween was canceled in some towns and the Red Cross set up shelters to house and feed people.


Still, at this writing, many are cold in their homes, and I hear stories about older people huddled under blankets, trying to stay warm.

While crews work around the clock to restore power, central Mainers are making the best of it.

The fast food eateries are busy with customers scrambling for a cheap hot meal.

At McDonald’s, a woman from Clinton told me she was without power but not complaining, as there are others worse off than she is — namely, people in Puerto Rico. Sometimes trying times bring out the best in people.

Scrolling through Facebook last night, I saw two touching posts — one by a woman firefighter saying if anyone out there was cold and hungry, she had warm beds, hot food and a place to charge cellphones; and another by a woman who offered the same and whose family had reached outs for years to help those less fortunate.

While our newspaper office in Waterville never lost power, our sister paper, the Kennebec Journal, in Augusta, did, so editors there worked from our location the evening of Oct. 30. Fortunately, the power was restored to the Kennebec Journal the next morning.


The storm’s aftermath brings back memories of the Ice Storm of 1998, which left many without power for days on end and towns and cities looking as if they were in the middle of a war zone.

We did lose power at the Morning Sentinel for a couple of days then, and we had to drive from Waterville to the Kennebec Journal to work.

We did not lose power at home then either, but most people did.

The first day of the ice storm, I decided to take West River Road to Augusta, thinking it might be less hazardous; but I soon began to regret it, as it was slippery and snowy and littered with icy tree branches I managed somehow to maneuver around. With every mile I drove, I wondered if I’d make it through another.

Fortunately, I arrived at the Augusta newspaper, squeezed into an empty desk and pounded out a storm story that never ran because we lost power and the story was squashed.

I remember clearly driving down Interstate 95 the next day with two of my colleagues in the snow and ice, through an alley of broken, frozen trees with limbs hanging, and we remarked that it looked like nuclear winter.


We were given any available desks at the Augusta office once we arrived and went to work.

Our publisher, who usually dressed impeccably in a suit and tie with not a hair out of place, strolled through the office in casual attire, looking haggard. As he approached my desk, I thought he was going to praise me for being there.

Instead, he pointed his finger at me and shouted, “You’ve had a shower!”

I guess it was obvious, from my shiny hair and clean clothes, that I had not suffered the vagaries of my poor colleagues who were without showers and washing machines.

I felt a twinge of guilt then, as I do now.

However, when on Wednesday I heard only 200,000 were without power instead of 400,000, the survivor’s guilt began to dissipate.

But I’d better knock on wood, because cold weather hasn’t even arrived yet — and they say a warm October portends a wicked winter.

The way things are going in the world, particularly weather-related, I’ve got a feeling we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 29 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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