Tens of thousands of Mainers remained without power for a second day Friday, forcing many schools to close again and prompting some businesses to fret over lost inventory and business.

Central Maine Power and Atlantic Broadband crews work to restore power and cable along School Street in Alfred on Friday, after the nor’easter that blew through the region. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Central Maine Power officials told customers that it could be days before power is restored to some coastal areas that were especially hard hit by the strong nor’easter that blew through the state early Thursday. Friday afternoon, Gov. Janet Mills signed an emergency proclamation requested by utility companies that allows their crews to work longer hours to speed up the process of restoring power.

CMP officials said Friday that they hoped to be able to give all customers an estimate by the end of the day about when power would be restored. Friday night, CMP spokeswoman Catharine Hartnett said the company was posting updated restoration times on its website. The website was overwhelmed Thursday morning and had said some customers would not have power restored until Jan. 1, 2068.

CMP President Doug Herling said work crews focused Thursday on clearing roads and making sure downed power lines were safe. He said the shift to assessment and restoration efforts got underway early Friday, and hard-hit Cumberland and Sagadahoc counties would be a priority.

CMP’s outages dropped from a peak of about 180,000 Thursday to 32,707 late Friday night, with 13,303 of them in Cumberland County, where Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth suffered widespread damage.

As of 11 p.m. Friday, 2,958 of CMP’s 38,615 customers in Portland still were in the dark, 262 of South Portland’s 13,969 customers were without power and 1,278 of Cape Elizabeth’s 4,401 customers still lacked electric service. Many customers lost their internet service as well. At 7:15 a.m. Saturday, the list of outages was not appearing on CMP’s website.

Many communities had opened day shelters and Portland officials opened the Reiche Community Center at 166 Brackett St. and the Riverton Community Center at 1600 Forest Ave. from 6 p.m. Friday until 8 a.m. Saturday.

Business owners were anxious about how long they might be affected.

Sam DiPietro of DiPietro’s Market on Cottage Road in South Portland said his business lost power early Thursday and he didn’t get it back until Friday afternoon.

“This is so unusual for us. If we lose power, it’s usually back within a couple hours,” he said.

Sam DiPietro, co-owner of DiPietro’s Market in South Portland, throws out spoiled food Friday because of the prolonged power outage. He said it was the first time he had ever had to do it. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

DiPietro said his employees were at the store Thursday waiting for the power to come back but he finally sent them home at 5 p.m.

“We were ready to roll because it would have been big business when we did open,” he said.

DiPietro said he had to throw out a bunch of frozen food, such as ice cream, and some milk.

“We’ll be talking to the insurance company,” he said. “Never had to do that before.”

On Route 1 in Scarborough, the Cheese Iron was one of several businesses that lost power Thursday. Co-owner Vince Maniaci said that after the two-hour mark, he had to make a decision.

“We realized it wasn’t coming back anytime soon, so an employee and I jumped in the truck and ran over to Lowe’s. We got one of the last two generators they had,” Maniaci said.

Back at the store, they plugged a freezer and two coolers into the generator and piled the perishables inside. Maniaci estimated that he saved between $8,000 and $10,000 in inventory by spending $700 to buy the generator.

“We never had any provisions in place before this, so it was a good learning curve,” he said.

Adam Powers, who co-owns Elsmere BBQ in South Portland, said he’s been frustrated with the lack of communication about when power might be restored.

“We’re running around in the dark, literally,” he said.

Powers’ employees have been using ice to keep everything cold, but he said if power wasn’t restored by Friday, he’d likely have to toss some items.

Some businesses that managed to avoid losing power benefited.

Mary Allen Lindemann, who co-owns Coffee By Design, said all three of her  Portland locations were extremely busy Thursday and Friday.

“We got pretty lucky,” she said. “Of course, none of us had power at our homes, so we had to come in without a shower.”

Lindemann said Coffee By Design also was able to offer meeting space to some businesses whose offices were without power and internet.

“We’ve been there,” she said.

At two Hannaford locations – Falmouth and Mill Creek in South Portland – stores were operating on backup generators.

Company spokesman Eric Blom said Friday morning that both stores remained open and were able to sell all products except those that required refrigeration.

After the outages occurred Thursday, Blom said the cold products at both stores were saved and moved into refrigerated trailers until power is restored.

The same was true at four Shaw’s Supermarket locations – Bath, Saco, Falmouth and Westgate in Portland – spokeswoman Teresa Edington said. Each was equipped with refrigerated trucks to store cold and frozen items.

Central Maine Power President Doug Herling, left, and York County Emergency Management Agency director Art Cleaves speak to the media on Friday at the York County Emergency Management Agency on the status of power restoration in the wake of this week’s nor’easter. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Herling, the CMP president, said the company had 100 of its own crews, along with 100 contractor crews, on standby Thursday when the fall nor’easter caused widespread and significant destruction with strong winds and heavy rains that felled trees throughout southern Maine. The storm knocked down power lines, damaged cars and homes and delayed or canceled classes across the region. Damage along the coast was especially severe, with sailboats washed onto Willard Beach in South Portland and a boat tossed onto the rocks at Bug Light.

Since the storm departed Thursday, about 300 utility crews from other New England states and Canada had arrived to help, CMP officials said. All the crews are working 17-hour shifts daily, said Hartnett, the CMP spokeswoman, and the shifts are staggered so there are crews out around the clock.

Emera Maine, which serves much of northern and eastern Maine, reported 4,175 outages Friday night, down from more than 40,000 on Thursday. The majority of those were in Hancock County.

York County had a peak of 41,000 customers without power Thursday, and only 539 customers were still without power Friday at 8 p.m.

School was canceled for the second straight day Friday in several towns, including South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Cumberland.

South Portland Superintendent Ken Kunin said he was driving around the city shortly after 4 a.m. Friday and made the decision to cancel at 5:30 a.m.

“We still had five (out of eight) schools without power, which means no internet, no alarms,” he said. “It’s just not practical at that point and our primary criteria is safety.”

Power was still out Friday afternoon at the University of Southern Maine’s Gorham campus as well.

In the aftermath of the October 2017 windstorm that knocked out power to nearly 500,000 Mainers, York County Emergency Management Agency Director Art Cleaves and other local officials urged CMP to shift initial efforts to safety by making sure roads are clear for emergency vehicles and cutting off power to downed power lines. He said CMP had done a better job in this week’s storm than it did two years ago in addressing those issues.

Although officials were still assessing the impact of the storm, Maine Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Susan Faloon said it didn’t look like the damage was widespread enough for Maine to be eligible for federal disaster relief funds.

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