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85,000 Still Without Power After Early Maine Snowstorm

Weekend Storms Dump Early Snow in Parts of U.S. 2:10

Warmer temperatures helped Mainers dig out of a surprise early snowfall Monday, but about 85,000 customers remained without power, and it could be several more days before electricity is restored, authorities said.

Power companies called in Canadian crews to help with hundreds of downed trees, power lines and transformers, and Gov. Paul LePage declared a state of emergency as utilities struggled to restore electricity to tens of thousands of customers a day after Sunday's storm dropped as much as two feet of snow on some parts of the state. Many towns established emergency shelters, and long lines snaked toward the occasional gas station that somehow managed to stay open.

In Ellsworth in Hancock County, Nathan Levandoski was gearing up for a second night of nonstop business at the only open gas station in town after "the craziest night that I have ever lived in my life."

"Usually we don't have anywhere near this much business," Levandoski told NBC station WCSH of Portland.

Those downed and damaged trees were making it hard for power crews to reach critical lines. Even as temperatures made it up into the 50s on Monday, "hazardous travel conditions made for a difficult first day of the restoration," Gail Rice, a spokeswoman for Central Maine Power, told NBC station WLBZof Bangor.

Also among the casualties were hundreds of political signs, which were buried under snow or were toppled by snow plows just a day before Mainers were to go to the polls Tuesday.

Joseph Briggs, a Bangor cab driver, told WCSH that at least half of the signs he usually saw on his rounds were nowhere to be seen, and Bangor Letter Shop, which prints political signs, said it had a backlog of several dozen rush orders for replacements.

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— M. Alex Johnson