Exit 43 Quick Stop’s pumps in Richmond, seen Wednesday, have been busy nonstop with people getting gas for their cars and generators after the storm. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

GARDINER — Power has been cut in much of central Maine for almost three days now, and with grocery stores closed or unreachable due to flooded roads, people are turning to local gas stations for fuel, food and even showers.

The canned goods shelves at Ainslie’s Market in Gardiner were pretty bare Wednesday after the early week storm knocked out power to many stores and homes across central Maine. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Convenience store managers say it’s created sales unlike anything they’ve seen before. Shelves are close to empty, workers are exhausted and in some places, gas has run out.

The storm that began Sunday flooded the Kennebec River and and brought near-hurricane force winds to central Maine. More than half of Kennebec County is still without power and a third of Somerset County is without electricity as of Wednesday night.

By the time the storm started, Gina Harding, who works at an Irving gas station in Waterville, said there was a line of roughly 25 anxious customers waiting to check out. She was one of about five employees working Sunday.

As electricity was cutting out across Waterville, the line of cars waiting to fill up tanks began spilling out of the parking lot and down Kennedy Memorial Drive. It had been a chaotic day, she said, but at about 1:30 p.m., everything went dark.

“The gas pumps just stopped,” Harding said. “Our registers went down. Everything was off. There were still more than 20 people in line, and all of them had food and beer and whatever, and when they got up here they couldn’t pay for it anyways, so we just let them have it.”


When the storm began to clear and crews arrived to assess the damage, the Irving gas station became one of just three or four in the Waterville area to have their power restored. Word quickly spread through social media, according to employee Marlaina Duff, and hundreds of residents from miles around made the trek to the gas station.

“As soon as we got power — the literal minute — there were lines for miles,” Duff said Wednesday. “All the way down the block, right down to the light on the corner … I came in this morning and there was a line all the way up to the road once again.”

Josh Alves, an employee at Exit 43 Quik Stop in Richmond, refills pizza on Wednesday. Pizza was one of the most frequently purchased items after the early week storm, he says. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

On Tuesday, Ainslie’s Market in Gardiner ran out of gas and sold so much food it had to close its kitchen for periods during the day. In one day, the market did four days worth of sales, and continued the record for the next day, Wednesday, employees said.

“I have never seen it like this,” said Kim MacMaster, who has worked at Ainslie’ Market for seven years. Her co-worker, Katie Malinowski agreed.

The pair chatted as they tried to catch up on kitchen orders from the past two days — Malinowski said they had to stop making pizza and shut the kitchen down for two hours on Tuesday and Wednesday to catch up because at the height of the craze, they had 10 12-inch pizzas in the oven.

Exit 43 Quik Stop’s milk, eggs and butter supply Wednesday after the early week storm knocked out power to many stores and homes across central Maine. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

And when she came to work Tuesday morning, a line of cars was wrapped around the 526 Brunswick Ave. store with people trying to get gas to fill up their generators. The station ran out of gas at 5 p.m. Tuesday night and did not get a refill until Wednesday morning.


“We ran out of gas last night, but then the truck came this morning,” said MacMaster on Wednesday. “We are now waiting for the food truck to show up. We don’t have the product. No pizza, no cheese. It’s been very overwhelming.

Pizza was high in demand at Richmond’s Exit 43 Quik Stop — and so were showers, as the store uniquely offered free showers to people without power.

Manager Nicole Hall said “a ton” of people used the shower and the sales all day Tuesday and Wednesday were “insane.”

Kim MacMaster, left, and Katie Malinowski wrap steak during their Wednesday shift at Ainslie’s Market in Gardiner. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

People traveled on the highway from Freeport and Augusta to access the gas station’s pumps — which never ran out — and food. Like Anslie’s market, it eventually had to shut the grill down from too many pizza orders and workers also said they did around three to four days worth of sales in one day.

As Josh Alves came to restock the pepperoni pizza on Wednesday afternoon, for what he said felt like the hundredth time, he said: “This is the second time I’ve seen it this busy.” He has been making pizzas at the shop for three years.

He estimated the store had around 275 pizza orders in a day, when they normally have around 50 to 75.

“And that’s not including the people that take the pizza out of the heater,” he said.

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