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Mainers Stock up on Supplies as Approaching Blizzard Disrupts Travel
02/08/2013   Reported By: Patty B. Wight

As snow blanketed much of the state today, Mainers prepared for what some predict will be an historic blizzard. Flights have been cancelled, bus and train services halted, and sporting events postponed. Patty Wight ventured out into the weather to see just how much the storm is disrupting the state, and how Mainers are planning ahead for the weekend.

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Mainers Stock up on Supplies as Approaching Blizza
Originally Aired: 2/8/2013 5:30 PM

At noon, the Portland Jetport was a virtual ghost town - the long maze of black ribbons leading to security empty, save for the lone TSA agent waiting at the end. Downstairs at the airline counters there were just a few hopeful travelers in line, including Stephanie Morris from Gray, who had booked an ill-timed flight: "Nine-fifteen tomorrow morning," she says. "Worst time!"

After calling the airline and waiting on hold for a half-hour on two different phone lines, she came to the Jetport in person, where she discovered her flight was cancelled.

"Well, I'm trying to fly to Portland, Oregon, to see my kids for the first time in a year and a half," she says. "So, I'm just trying to find out whether there's anything going today so I can just sit and wait and do standby, or sleep overnight in an airport, or whatever I have to do to get there."

Jetport spokesperson Gregory Hughes says most flights left Friday morning, but those scheduled for the afternoon were cancelled and he doesn't expect things to start running again until Saturday afternoon. But he says most people planned ahead to avoid last-minute hassles, and it's lucky the storm hit before February break for schools.

"You know, we're pre-holiday. If this was two weeks from now, we'd have a much bigger impact," he says.

But while travel by air, rail and land has been halted or hampered, travel by sea is full steam ahead. Larry Legere of Casco Bay Lines ferry service in Portland says trips are rarely cancelled for weather - maybe one or two times a year - and he doesn't expect service to be interrupted by this storm.

"Unless the wind gusts get too high," he says. "And then it gets a bit dangerous docking at the islands, and that's where our captains take over and decide whether it's safe. Being out on the ocean on the boats is not a big problem."

With the stage set for Mainers to stay put for at least the next day or so, some, like Steve Anderson of Peaks Island, saw the need to get last-minute storm essentials. "It's stock up on wine and stock up on water," he says. "And that's about it. It's snow and it's Maine."

Anderson was waiting to catch the ferry back to Peaks with fellow island resident Bruce St. Thomas, who was hauling three canvas bags full of groceries back for himself and others. St. Thomas says residents are watching out for each other.

"So I've already had three phone calls from neighbors and community members, and if anything happened that was a sizable nature, we'd all gather in someone's house that had the best heating source, and do fine," he says.

Many other Mainers hit the stores today, and Hannaford spokesman Erik Blom says the supermarket chain has managed to keep up with demand, save for a few isolated stores that may have run out of certain items. "We did pre-position and move ahead of the storm extra water and batteries," he says, "and the stores have certainly been very busy."

The worst of the storm is still expected. Gov. LePage declared a limited state emergency, and Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Rob McAleer says crews from Cananda are coming to Maine to help with expected power outages on Saturday. McAleer says while the storm will be over Saturday, its impact will extend through Sunday.

"What will probably linger on well into Sunday are the high winds," he says. "So what that means is we'll go down, plow a road out, or locals will plow a road out, and the wind will come along and close the road down again, so that will be an ongoing thing, I think, throughout Sunday."

McAleer says Mainers should stay off the roads as much as possible, and that's the plan for Jason Putnam of South Portland. He, along with many others, hit Videoport in Portland to stock up on movies for the weekend. Putnam walked away with three, in both the action and children's category.

"This is probably the ultimate for us," he says. "Having a child, we have to keep everyone entertained in the house. So once we're snowed in, we have to keep the entertainment going."



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