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Frigid temperatures Christmas Day offered no respite from the ice pulling down utility poles and power lines across Michigan and the northeastern USA, and tens of thousands remained without electricity days after an ice storm barreled through.
Twenty-seven deaths have been blamed on the storm and cold, with 17 in the USA and 10 in Canada. Among those in Canada, seven were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning from people using generators or barbecues to stay warm after losing power and heat.
Crews worked throught the holiday trying to restore power, and warming shelters offered refuge for many, including the Walter family who sought relief at a shelter in a Litchfield, Maine, school, the Associated Press reported.
"It's definitely kind of strange, but we're hanging in there," said Ashley Walter, 27, with her month-old daughter, Leah. The family lost power Saturday. Ashley Walter's husband, Jacob, made trips to their home to check on cats and water pipes.
Worst hit was Michigan, where more than 150,000 homes remained without power early Christmas Day. By day's end, repair crews had reduced that number to the tens of thousands. At its peak, the storm last Saturday affected more than 500,000 home and businesses in Michigan.
Light snow was expected in Michigan, and a few inches of accumulation was expected to add to problems in Maine and New Hampshire, said Brian Wimer of AccuWeather.com.
Frigid temperatures were expected to continue. "When it's this cold, it's not going to melt (ice) much and also it's cloudy, so there's not much sun to help out," Wimer said.
But he said dry weather should continue through Friday and Saturday in areas hit by power outages with temperatures inching above freezing.
Brad Hoving, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, Mich., said some people between Grand Rapids and Lansing, Mich., may not get power back until Thursday.
"It's a big deal," Hoving said. "It's Christmas, and we've just had a major ice storm," with trees toppling over and ice-covered power lines.
"This is our largest Christmas-week storm in our 126-year history, and it's our largest ice storm in the last 10 years," Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd said. The company provides electricity to most of lower Michigan. "We are working as hard as we can to get people back on. We recognize that this is a terrible time for this to happen."
"Unfortunately, what's happening is, because the temperatures are remaining below freezing, the ice is not melting," Dodd said. "Things are continuing to fail."
In Flint, Mich., the American Red Cross set up a warming shelter and a mobile food truck provided meals.
"What we're recommending is, if they don't have a relative they can stay with, that they call 211," Dodd said. "That puts them in contact with their nearest United Way agency."
In East Lansing, Terry Brock, from Richmond, Va., was visiting his parents when the ice storm struck.
"I was basically up all night listening to transformers blow up and listening to branches fall all over the neighborhood," he said.
"There's no one to be angry at so I'm not going to be," said Brock, whose car was damaged by a falling limb.
In Maine, more than 60,000 people still remained without power Christmas Day. Gov. Paul LePage, who declared a state of emegerncy before the storm arrived, urged residents to check on their neighbors, according to the Associated Press. Temperatures across the state remained in the single digits.
Sharon Kiley Mack, executive director of the Machias Bay Chamber of Commerce, wrote in a Facebook post that the ice had taken its toll on the town: "Stand outside for a minute and all you can hear are crashing trees, falling branches and sirens."
Power was knocked out to downtown Ellsworth, Maine, which declared a state of emergency.
"Travel conditions are becoming life-threatening with icy conditions paired with downed power lines and fallen trees," the town said in a statement. "Especially after sunset, it will become difficult to see the downed power lines and trees, contributing to even more hazardous conditions."