Central Mainers relegated to their homes because of the coronavirus pandemic were managing OK until they were hit with a lengthy power outage Thursday that also robbed them of their heat, running water and electricity.

As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, 12,443 Central Maine Power Co. customers in Kennebec County remained without power; 14,975 were without power in Somerset; 8,093, in Franklin; and 12,511, in Waldo.

Sam and Alan Sanborn of Canaan, in Somerset County, lost power around 7 p.m. Thursday during the heavy snowstorm. It came back on about an hour later, but only for about 20 minutes, and remained out as of mid-afternoon Saturday.

“It’s a double-whammy,” Sam Sanborn said Saturday.

The couple drove to Waterville Saturday afternoon where Alan Sanborn is manager of Railroad Square Cinema, but is on furlough because of the pandemic.

“We just came in to get fresh water and charge up our digital devices,” he said. “It’s been a grind.”

The Sanborns have been getting some water from an old well on their rural Canaan property and heating the house with wood. They have not opened their freezer, which contains meat, vegetables and other food.

“We’re keeping it closed and hoping for the best — that it doesn’t spoil,” Alan Sanborn said. “But like many Mainers, we have a wood furnace, an oil furnace and a heat pump, so we’re really set.”

The Sanborns had been spending time during the governor’s stay-at-home order getting their house in order and staying busy with projects.

“We’re reading,” Alan Sanborn said. “I’ve been going through closets I hadn’t been into for years and years and I have piles of things to go to Goodwill, but of course, Goodwill is closed.

Sam Sanborn said they listen to a little transistor radio and all the news has been about the coronavirus and nothing about the power outage, so they do not know when the power will return. She also put together a large puzzle and made a face mask and one day, they went outside and socialized with neighbors, standing 20 feet apart from each other.

For the Sanborns, the worst casualty of the storm was losing their favorite apple tree which produced delicious Macintosh apples.

“It uprooted,” Alan Sanborn said. “It was 40 years old. We’ve seen it from birth to death.”

In the west part of Waterville, Joan Phillips-Sandy, and her husband, Robert, also were still without power as of mid-Saturday afternoon after losing it around midnight Thursday.

Since the Center for Disease Control and U.S. Department of Agriculture advises food in a full freezer will keep for 48 hours during a power outage, the family removed the food Saturday and took it to a friend’s freezer, according to Joan Phillips-Sandy. On Friday morning, they placed milk, yogurt and eggs from the refrigerator in a cooler, packed snow around it and put it on their deck, she said.

“We definitely don’t want to lose the eggs — they’re scarce in the supermarket,” she said.

The chairwoman of the Waterville Board of Education, Joan Phillips-Sandy said she hopes the power is back on by Monday night when she is to lead a board meeting via Zoom.

“If it’s not back by Monday night, I’ll still be chairing the meeting from a friend’s home office if necessary,” she said.

Meanwhile, the family has been heating the house with a woodstove.

“It doesn’t heat the house very well, but it’s not bad,” Joan Phillips-Sandy said. “I’ve been wearing a coat and a sweatshirt.”

She offered a tip for determining if freezer food has thawed in a power outage.

Keep an ice cube in a paper cup and place it in the freezer, she said.

“If everything stays frozen, when you go to check the ice, it will still be a cube,” she said. “If it thaws and refreezes it won’t be a cube.”

She said she was talking about the power outage by phone with her daughter, Mary, who lives in New York. Mary asked her how she knew the food from the freezer was still good. Joan Phillips-Sandy reminded her of the ice cube trick, which the family implemented for many years, but Mary had not remembered that.

“She said, ‘Is that why there was an ice cube in a paper cup in the freezer when I was a kid?’ ” Joan Phillips-Sandy recalled.


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