Flo Baerren of Lansing, Mich., was planning on giving her granddaughter a hand-knit quilt for Christmas when she went to Chicago to see family for the holidays.
Instead, the 68-year-old found herself renting a room at a Hampton Inn in Jackson, 38 miles away, and eating Christmas dinner at Denny’s.
Baerren is among tens of thousands of people who were left in the dark, some for up to a week, in areas of Michigan and New England after ice storms felled power lines.
“I understand it was a major storm. I understand a lot of trees fell down,” Baerren, whose power went out a week ago, told the Los Angeles Times.
“What I don’t understand is the complete and utter lack of communication of what’s going on . . . and an apparent lack of any kind of cohesive plan to deal with an emergency like this.”
Denay Kelley of Lansing, whose power has been out for six days, had to return to her home on Dec. 27 because she could no longer afford living in a motel.
“That night I bought 200 candles and candle holders to try and warm up my home,” she told The Times in an email. “It didn’t do much.”
Kelley, 23, who has a 14-month-old son, said she “can’t even afford a generator” and is worried the temperature will continue to drop. In the past few days, weather in Lansing has hit lows of 25 degrees and highs in the 40s.
Meanwhile, utility companies continue to work on fixing the outages.
Last Saturday’s ice storm caused 409,000 outages for customers of Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility. As of 11:30 a.m. Saturday, about 18,000 customers remained without power, the utility’s website reported.
In a similar update, the Lansing Board of Water & Light, which is city-owned, reported on its Facebook page that it’s down to 3,000 customers without power from the 25,000 reported Sunday after the ice storm.
Both companies said tree-trimming and line crews would continue to make repairs Saturday.
DTE Energy, based out of Detroit, said on its Facebook page that as of 6 a.m., it had restored power to more than 99% of its customers affected by the ice storm. About 1,300 customers remained without service.
In Maine, Central Maine Power Co. issued a release on Friday that said crews were set to complete ice storm recovery Friday night. In parts of Maine, including Bangor, temperatures have gone below zero.
As of Friday, crews had reduced the number of people without power to fewer than 1,000.
Bangor Hydro Electric Co., also in Maine, wrote in an electric status update on Saturday morning that “all customers are expected to have power restored by the end of the day Wednesday.”
But a threat of more power outages looms as the National Weather Service forecasts more snow, sleet and freezing rain in parts of Maine on Sunday night.
On Saturday, an urgent winter weather advisory warned of a fast-moving storm expected to move up the Northeast coast and across Cape Cod and blanket parts of New Hampshire and Maine in snow.
“Although this will be a fast-moving storm . . . it will likely produce a band of heavy snowfall just inland of the coast,” the advisory said. “Inland areas of central New Hampshire and western Maine could see 6 to 10 inches of snow.”