A Lawrence couple turned their home into a shelter. A Pelham, N.H., grandfather continually fed a fire to warm his 18-month-old grandson. A Methuen animal shelter took in dozens of critters for the Lowell Humane Society.
Residents are helping each other and doing what they can to stay warm and keep their spirits up while waiting for the lights to come on. More than 5,000 people in the area remained without power yesterday, four days after a crippling ice storm forced Massachusetts and New Hampshire into states of emergency.
Yvonne and Willy Arlequeeuw of Howard Street in Lawrence took in their elderly neighbors, Anita and Rose Davidian, as well as their granddaughters, Arianna Earnshaw of Derry, N.H., and Kiley Mackin of Atkinson, N.H.
"They've made us very welcome," Rose Davidian said.
Anita and Rose Davidian were left without electricity when a branch fell on a wire last Friday. They stayed home the first two nights and spent most of the time in bed under their down comforters, until the batteries from the telephone and radio went dead.
"We thought we could tough it out, but I guess we couldn't," Rose Davidian said. After a little prodding from the Arlequeeuws, the unmarried women accepted the offer.
Rose Davidian, 87, and her 82-year-old sister have lived through hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, but they don't remember being without electricity for so long.
Utility crews are working around the clock, but 7,568 homes and businesses remained without power in Essex County last night, according to National Grid.
"A lot of people are losing their patience," said Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini.
Haverhill ran an emergency shelter at the Citizens Center at 10 Welcome St. By Sunday night, those who had stayed there were either back in their homes or staying elsewhere, said Vincent Ouellete, the city's director of human services.
At Zion Bible College, which occupies the buildings used by the former Bradford College, students had their semester end a week early due to the lack of power.
The students are expected to return by Jan. 5, according to David Hanshumaker, head of the men's dormitory. They will take their final exams then.
National Grid spokesman David Graves said 985 crews, including Bay State employees as well as workers from Michigan, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Arkansas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Canada were working in Massachusetts. Each crew consists of two to three workers, he said.
Another 1,378 "behind the scenes" people — engineers, customer service employees and clerical people — also were part of the effort, Graves said.
In New Hampshire, about 148,000 remained in the dark and several shelters remained open.
President George W. Bush issued emergency declarations for New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts, opening the door for federal assistance, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Web site.
Methuen schools reopen
In Methuen, Mayor William Manzi lifted his emergency declaration around 11 a.m. yesterday.
The American Red Cross shut down its shelter at Comprehensive Grammar School in Methuen that morning when its need subsided, said John Santoro, the city's emergency management director.
The city also disbanded the emergency management operations center at the fire station and is referring storm-related calls to the Police Department.
All Methuen public schools have power and will reopen today, Manzi said.
Keith Curtis lives on the Methuen/Pelham, N.H., line, on Old Gage Hill Road in Pelham. He and his family have been huddling beside the fireplace — they still didn't have power late yesterday afternoon.
"We've probably blown close to 200 bucks or more on wood, just from the weekend," he said.
Despite the stress of having a flooded basement and worrying about pipes freezing, the family played Yahtzee and cribbage.
Janice DeLima, 17, a senior at Notre Dame High School in Lawrence, said the storm taught her a lesson.
"We have to be more prepared," she said. "I told my father we need candles, flashlights, canned food and water."
John Regan's power didn't return to his west Methuen home until around 7:30 a.m. yesterday, right when he was at the end of his rope. His wife was sick and staying in a hotel and he stayed home to care for his 87-year-old mother, their home and their cat.
From Thursday night to Monday morning, he was up all day and night checking on his mother and making sure the house stayed fairly warm with the gas stove and fireplace.
When he could catch some sleep, he did it in front of his fireplace.
"My cat, Buddy, was at my feet," he said.
Neighbors helping neighbors
Nilsa Vega stayed at a friend's house Friday night when she lost electricity in her lower Tower Hill apartment. When she went to check on the home Saturday, she flicked the switch and the lights were back.
"I had a smile you couldn't wipe off my face," Vega said. That night, she hosted eight friends from Litchfield, N.H., Lawrence and Methuen, who were in the same predicament as she had been.
"The way I see it, someone helped me and it was good that I was able to help someone else in turn."
Pond Street in Methuen is a close-knit neighborhood. Beverly Gagnon's neighbors helped her husband fix the generator and cut hanging branches off trees.
"The first night without power, we were playing cards with the light from a kerosene lamp," Gagnon said. "We never do that."
Residents yelled and screamed with joy when the power returned around 4 p.m. yesterday, Gagnon said.
Caring for critters
The Lowell Humane Society moved six dogs, three birds and 26 cats to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at Nevins Farm in Methuen.
"We're happy to help out in the circumstances," said Heather Robertson, community outreach coordinator for the MSPCA at Nevins Farm.
The humane society's power was restored at 4 p.m. yesterday, and the evacuated animals will be moved back to Lowell today.
Staff reporters Yadira Betances, J.J. Huggins, Paul Tennant and Rosemary Ford contributed to this report.
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