Power crews from JCR Utility Construction work to restore power Saturday to customers on Belgrade Road in Oakland. A spring storm Thursday night knocked out power to more than 200,000 Mainers. While power is being restored, some Spectrum cable and internet customers are still without service on Saturday. A company spokesperson noted that cable companies must get an “all clear” from the utilities to ensure roads are passable in order to assess any damage. And, even when power is restored to a hoe, service there may be no service until power is restored to network hubs around the area.  Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

When the spring snowstorm blanketed central Maine Thursday and Friday, heavy wet snow knocked out both power and cable service to thousands of customers across the region.

While Phil Lindley never lost power at his Hallowell home, he did lose cable, and that concerned him.

On Saturday, Lindley said losing cable, which for him also means internet service, was one more aggravation.

While Central Maine Power posts outage information and estimates of when power is expected to be restored, Spectrum, central Maine’s cable provider, does not.

“Having to stay at home is bad enough, but without a connection to the outside world just compounds the feeling of isolation, especially for our elderly neighbors,” Lindley said in a note to the Kennebec Journal, as he was entering his second day without service. “How widespread is the outage and what is the estimate for restoration?”

While thousands of Maine residents are now relying on the internet to be able to work from home or to do school work as they remain home under public health directives to slow the spread of coronavirus across Maine, Lindley has been using the internet for another reason.

Every evening, Lindley and his neighbors spend about an hour talking via Zoom, an online video and audio conferencing platform, to check in and visit. At least one of his neighbors lives alone, and another is quarantining at home after returning from an overseas trip.

With internet unavailable to him Thursday, he tried using a mobile phone hot spot on the U.S. Cellular network, but that didn’t work either.

“It was a confluence of a comedy of errors,” Lindley said Saturday.

While power companies are subject to regulation by state utility regulators — including how they communicate with customers — cable companies are not.

A note on Spectrum’s website Saturday offered a link to the Spectrum Storm Center to get information on weather in the northeast.

“We are working to restore your service soon,” the note reads.

On Saturday, Spectrum spokeswoman Lara Pritchard said the vast majority of cable service interruptions were power-related.

“If roads are inaccessible, due to storm damage/power lines down, our crews cannot access an area until ‘cleared’ by utilities,” Pritchard said via email. “So we can’t access or assess any damage to our network until an area is given the all clear by utilities.”

Even if a customer’s power is restored, she said, cable service may not resume if power is still out at a network hub.

Lindley said his cable service was restored Saturday morning, but other customers across the region were reporting via social media continuing outages of power and cable Saturday afternoon.

Being without a connection to the outside world, he said, compounds feelings of isolation, especially for elderly people.




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