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Coming snow could slow power restoration efforts

  • Trees frozen in ice cripple a section of power lines on Maplehurst Drive  in Belgrade, Maine, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)

    Trees frozen in ice cripple a section of power lines on Maplehurst Drive in Belgrade, Maine, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)

  • Family Farm & Home of Mason employees  and Dean Haynes,  left, and Bobby Hollon load a generator into Nathan Timm's truck, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. Timm, of Ovid, was buying the generator for his parents, who live in Barry County and are without electricity. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Matthew Dae Smith)

    Family Farm & Home of Mason employees and Dean Haynes, left, and Bobby Hollon load a generator into Nathan Timm's truck, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. Timm, of Ovid, was buying the generator for his parents, who live in Barry County and are without electricity. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Matthew Dae Smith)

  • Utility crews respond to a downed power line at the intersection of Dorset Street and Kennedy Drive in South Burlington, Vt., on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Burlington Free Press, Glenn Russell)

    Utility crews respond to a downed power line at the intersection of Dorset Street and Kennedy Drive in South Burlington, Vt., on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Burlington Free Press, Glenn Russell)

  • Trees and power lines grow heavy with ice as freezing rain continues into Monday morning, Dec. 23, 2013, in Cambridge, Vt. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Burlington Free Press, Emily McManamy)

    Trees and power lines grow heavy with ice as freezing rain continues into Monday morning, Dec. 23, 2013, in Cambridge, Vt. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Burlington Free Press, Emily McManamy)

  • Carla Coulter, 46, of Clio, holds her 1-year-old grandson Connor Hergert closely as she gives him a kiss on the forehead while listening to the FirstMerit Bank Mixed Chorus sing "Silent Night" along with about 100 spectators during the 76th Annual Holiday Sing on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 at FirstMerit Bank in downtown Flint, Mich. "We don't have power. We're warming up, and I just feel so very blessed to have my family," Coulter said. "I don't need anything else." (AP Photo/The Flint Journal, Jake May) LOCAL TV OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT

    Carla Coulter, 46, of Clio, holds her 1-year-old grandson Connor Hergert closely as she gives him a kiss on the forehead while listening to the FirstMerit Bank Mixed Chorus sing "Silent Night" along with about 100 spectators during the 76th Annual Holiday Sing on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 at FirstMerit Bank in downtown Flint, Mich. "We don't have power. We're warming up, and I just feel so very blessed to have my family," Coulter said. "I don't need anything else." (AP Photo/The Flint Journal, Jake May) LOCAL TV OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT

  • Andrew Powers, an arborist with Asplundh Tree Experts, clears iced branches from power lines along Mayflower Heights Drive in Waterville, Maine, on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. Central Maine Power said nearly 57,000 were without power Monday afternoon, up from 29,000 it had been reporting earlier. Hardest hit was Kennebec County with about 20,000 and Waldo County at nearly 15,000 customers without power.  (AP Photo/Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)

    Andrew Powers, an arborist with Asplundh Tree Experts, clears iced branches from power lines along Mayflower Heights Drive in Waterville, Maine, on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. Central Maine Power said nearly 57,000 were without power Monday afternoon, up from 29,000 it had been reporting earlier. Hardest hit was Kennebec County with about 20,000 and Waldo County at nearly 15,000 customers without power. (AP Photo/Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)

  • Jake Baldino, left, and Mick Benbow of K & T Electric of DeWitt replace an electrical box and pole to a home in DeWitt Township, Mich., Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Greg DeRuiter)

    Jake Baldino, left, and Mick Benbow of K & T Electric of DeWitt replace an electrical box and pole to a home in DeWitt Township, Mich., Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Greg DeRuiter)

  • Jake Baldino, left, and Mick Benbow of K & T Electric of DeWitt replace an electrical box and pole to a home in DeWitt Township, Mich., Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Greg DeRuiter)

    Jake Baldino, left, and Mick Benbow of K & T Electric of DeWitt replace an electrical box and pole to a home in DeWitt Township, Mich., Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Greg DeRuiter)

  • Trees frozen in ice cripple a section of power lines on Maplehurst Drive  in Belgrade, Maine, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)
  • Family Farm & Home of Mason employees  and Dean Haynes,  left, and Bobby Hollon load a generator into Nathan Timm's truck, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. Timm, of Ovid, was buying the generator for his parents, who live in Barry County and are without electricity. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Matthew Dae Smith)
  • Utility crews respond to a downed power line at the intersection of Dorset Street and Kennedy Drive in South Burlington, Vt., on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Burlington Free Press, Glenn Russell)
  • Trees and power lines grow heavy with ice as freezing rain continues into Monday morning, Dec. 23, 2013, in Cambridge, Vt. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Burlington Free Press, Emily McManamy)
  • Carla Coulter, 46, of Clio, holds her 1-year-old grandson Connor Hergert closely as she gives him a kiss on the forehead while listening to the FirstMerit Bank Mixed Chorus sing "Silent Night" along with about 100 spectators during the 76th Annual Holiday Sing on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 at FirstMerit Bank in downtown Flint, Mich. "We don't have power. We're warming up, and I just feel so very blessed to have my family," Coulter said. "I don't need anything else." (AP Photo/The Flint Journal, Jake May) LOCAL TV OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT
  • Andrew Powers, an arborist with Asplundh Tree Experts, clears iced branches from power lines along Mayflower Heights Drive in Waterville, Maine, on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. Central Maine Power said nearly 57,000 were without power Monday afternoon, up from 29,000 it had been reporting earlier. Hardest hit was Kennebec County with about 20,000 and Waldo County at nearly 15,000 customers without power.  (AP Photo/Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)
  • Jake Baldino, left, and Mick Benbow of K & T Electric of DeWitt replace an electrical box and pole to a home in DeWitt Township, Mich., Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Greg DeRuiter)
  • Jake Baldino, left, and Mick Benbow of K & T Electric of DeWitt replace an electrical box and pole to a home in DeWitt Township, Mich., Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands remain without power days after a massive ice storm _ which one utility called the largest Christmas-week storm in its history _ blacked out homes and businesses in the Great Lakes and Northeast. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Greg DeRuiter)

The ice that snapped utility poles and knocked out power to more than half a million people in the United States and Canada was stubbornly hanging on yesterday as frigid temperatures cloaked a region from the Great Lakes to New England.

Utility crews from Maine to Michigan and into Canada made progress getting the lights back on yesterday and people were slowly trickling out of shelters to spend Christmas Day at their finally-warm homes.

But the cold means ice isn’t melting off lines and limbs, while wind gusts of more than 20 mph could bring down more branches. Two to 6 inches of snow in places today will hamper line crews trying to get to remote spots.

“We’ve had two beautiful, sunny days in Maine and the ice isn’t going anyplace,” said Lynette Miller, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency. “They’re very concerned about more weight coming down on trees that are already compromised by ice.”

Ashley Walter was still hunkered down with her husband, Jacob, and their 1-month-old daughter, Leah, at a shelter set up in a school in Litchfield, Maine, where the temperature dropped to 4 degrees overnight and wasn’t expected to get much higher than 15 yesterday.

The family lost power Saturday, got it back temporarily then lost it again Sunday and have been without since. Ashley, 27, and Leah stayed warm at the shelter while Jacob made frequent trips home to check on their cats and water pipes.

Despite the challenge of being forced out of the house, especially at Christmas, the family was staying positive. Ashley made sure they celebrated the holiday.

“It’s definitely kind of strange, but we’re hanging in there,” she said yesterday. “We did our Christmas together last night. I packed little stockings and gave them to my husband, sisters and my daughter.”

Trudy Lamoreau was supervising the emergency shelter where about 25 people stayed Tuesday night. Lamoreau, who’s also the town manager, said they warmed the shelter with generators until the school got power back late Tuesday night. Maine still had about 60,000 people without power, down from a high of 106,000.

“People are doing quite well considering the circumstances,” she said.

The ice storm last weekend was one of the worst to hit during a Christmas week, and repair crews were working around the clock to restore service. States that weren’t hit were sending crews to help.

In Michigan, about 156,000 people were still without power yesterday afternoon, down from more than 500,000 at the storm’s peak. Snow is falling across most of the state and temperatures are in the teens and 20s.

So far, authorities blame the storm for 25 deaths; 15 in the U.S. and 10 in Canada, including five who apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning. In Michigan, the police said a 73-year-old woman died Christmas Eve when she ran a stop light that was out of service because of the ice storm.

In Canada, about 160,000 customers were without power yesterday. There were 72,000 customers without power in Toronto, down from 300,000 at the height of the outages, and Mayor Rob Ford said some may not have power restored until the weekend.

Back at the shelter in Maine, volunteers have tried to make it homey. For Christmas Day, they cooked up a ham dinner with potatoes, vegetables, bread and pie for dessert.

“They have been amazing,” Walter said, adding that the volunteers set up a separate room for her and Leah so they wouldn’t disturb others when the infant woke during the night. “They just try to make everything better for us.”

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