Shaw's Supermarket at 43 Indian Rock Road in Windham was open for business, operating on auxiliary power.
Windham residents Dena Beauchesne and Chris Nikitos, both 24, were shopping there at midday.
Beauchesne said she had to walk out of North Lowell Road because is was impassable with fallen trees and two downed utility poles. She watched a transformer catch fire sometime after midnight.
"I heard it blow up there," she said. "There were a couple of booms and I could see this orange light. I went upstairs to get a better look and I could see a branch on fire."
Nikitos had a shopping cart full of 2-gallon jugs of water, chips and salsa. He said he was amazed the store still had water for sale since many people are without water and he doesn't expect to have his water back for several days.
Jason Moore of Derry brought his 2-year-old daughter Maddy and 4-year-old son Cooper with him to Shaw's.
"I've got nothing else to do. I was lucky to get out of the house," Moore said. "It's not the main roads that are a problem, it's the side roads we rely on in Southern New Hampshire."
He said he wasn't concerned about his family's safety.
"It's just New England weather," Moore said. "We have a wood fireplace, so that's what we'll use to keep warm."
The American Red Cross in New Hampshire was opening an emergency shelter at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston for Kingston, Atkinson and other local residents this afternoon. Earlier, about a half-dozen residents sought shelter at the Atkinson fire station. The Sanborn shelter has provisions for people to stay overnight, including hot food.
Atkinson road crews began clearing branches from major roads at 5 a.m. yesterday, said fire Chief Mike Murphy. All major roads were passable by noon yesterday and work was underway to clear secondary roads.
"Atkinson is totally without power," Murphy said at midday yesterday. "There's not an area in town that has power."
Hampstead, too, was without power, according to a firefighter there.
Resident John Matousek of Cortland Road in East Hampstead said he lost power about 11:30 Thursday night. He said the house was freezing and they were using cold water from their hot tub to flush their toilets.
All night long, Matousek heard tree limbs cracking and falling to the ground.
About 6 a.m. yesterday, a 20-foot section of tree hit the back of his house.
"It was real loud, like a bomb hitting my house," Matousek said.
An East Hampstead resident for more than 20 years, he said it was the worst ice storm he's ever seen. He said a tree knocked down all the power lines to the house of one of his neighbors, and those wires were strewn across his driveway. That neighbor's front lawn was a sea of fallen trees.
East Hampstead, N.H., mail carrier Michelle Seager was almost hit by a falling tree while delivering mail on Country Road yesterday morning. She said she had just delivered a package when a tree came down and skimmed her back as she jumped out of the way.
Ralph Sinclair of Windham, N.H., who owns Woof Woof doggy day care, said it took him a half-hour to drive the three miles from his home to the Hess station in Salem. He was fueling up his vehicle and fueling himself with hot coffee and getting propane so he could cook for his family of five.
Woof Woof had reservations for 30 dogs yesterday, Sinclair said, but none of them showed up.
"This is biblical," Sinclair said.
Keith Curtis of Pelham, N.H., who delivers lobsters and clams for Canobie Seafood, was traveling throughout northern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire starting at 5:30 a.m. Along Interstate 495, near the intersection with Route 213, he saw trees down whose branches extended into the highway, forcing drivers in the two outside lanes to skirt them.
Dozens of motorists waited in cars and pickup trucks to get to one of 16 gas pumps at the Hess station on Route 28 in Salem, N.H., at midday. It was one of the few stations open for business. Some people arrived on foot, carrying gas cans they hoped to fill to take back to their empty vehicles.
A FairPoint Communications worker was filling his truck and four gas cans. He said conditions were comparable to what he saw in Naples, Maine, during the historic ice storm that hit northern New England in 1998.
"It was terrible," he said.
New Hampshire Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton said as of 11 a.m., all interstate highways in Southern New Hampshire were open.
Crews were outside salting roads statewide last night, Boynton said, but things escalated as branches and trees cracked under the weight of the thick ice and dozens of state roads were closed at a time.