April 07, 2020

Ice storm heats up business at some stores

BANGOR — When Brad Ryder set out to check on his store Friday morning, he expected to find it dark and empty. Instead, the power was on at Cadillac Mountain Sports in downtown Bangor and as soon as he opened the doors, people started coming.

Most were looking for camping stoves and fuel to power them. By early afternoon, the store was sold out of those items.

“We’ve had a run on anything that can cook or produce heat,” Ryder said as a handful of people tried on boots nearby.

The store also sold a lot of emergency candles, freeze-dried food and ice creepers, he said.

This week’s ice storm was a curse for some area businesses that closed during lengthy power outages, but a blessing for others that kept residents supplied with the necessities — food, fuel and batteries.

The Bangor Mall remained closed Friday, as did many stores in the general vicinity that were left without electricity by falling limbs and downed power lines. A hand-written note informed potential patrons that the Hoyt’s Cinemas were closed. Nearby Borders Books and Music and the Oriental Jade stood dark and empty. Most area banks were closed for the day and those that were open closed early.

Meanwhile, many area businesses were doing a brisk business.

“It’s the busiest day we’ve had in years,” said Julie Caulkins, a manager at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street. She stood in front of empty racks that earlier held doughnuts, muffins and bagels.

Hardware stores were also busy. Rock salt, kerosene and batteries were big sellers. Broadway Hardware sold 50 tons of rock salt by Thursday and was sold out of batteries Friday. The store had trouble getting more supplies from its Portland warehouse because it, too, was running out of things such as batteries.

“I hope it keeps going all month long,” store owner Ed Hopkins said jokingly of the lingering ice storm.

Home Quarters had run out of kerosene heaters by late morning but expected to get more by afternoon.

Grocery stores were also packed with people — many of them out of work for the day — gearing up for a weekend of continued bad weather. As expected, water, candles and batteries were hot sellers. Many people also stocked up on cold cuts so they could make sandwiches while the power remained out, said Norm Jolin, manager of the Shaw’s on Main Street.

In Waldo County, Belfast Co-op was doing a land-office business as it was one of the few buildings in the city to have power. “I can’t explain it and I’m not even going to ask,” General Manager Gary Skigen said amid the bedlam. “We’ve got power so we’re moving a lot of stock. At my house, it’s another story altogether.”

And MBNA had opened the doors of its new facility on Route 3 to be used as a shelter.

But over at the Doak Farm in Monroe, the situation was not as cozy. David and Bernys Doak had plenty of wood heat to stay warm but the farm was in trouble. The Doaks lost their generator on Thursday and have been dumping milk ever since. Bernys estimated that the farm had lost 3,600 pounds of fresh milk. Their backup generator was not powerful enough to run the entire farm.

“We’ve got enough power to run our milker but we’re dumping the milk because we don’t have enough power to keep it chilled,” she said. “Still, considering how some others have it, we’re doing pretty good. It could be a lot worse. We could be without anything.”

Those insurance companies that were open handled numerous calls from people reporting damage to their homes or cars from falling tree limbs. Ernest Khoury, the claims manager for Sargent Tyler and West in Brewer, suggested that people take photographs of any damage to speed up the insurance claims process.

Bus and air travel in and out of Bangor remained as smooth as possible given the weather conditions. Concord Trailways and Greyhound Bus Lines reported that all of their buses were running and were on time.

Some flights were canceled or delayed at Bangor International Airport Friday due to bad weather up and down the East Coast. Airport Director Bob Ziegelaar said the situation was likely to improve if the freezing rain stopped Saturday, as predicted. If not, it could get worse. He advised travelers to call their airline to ensure that their flight was coming in or taking off as scheduled.

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