More than 100,000 New Hampshire residents remained without power last night and local schools were closed today in the wake of Thursday's ice storm that hit the southern part of the state the hardest.

Public Service Company of New Hampshire reported about 163,000 customers were still without power last night - down from 322,000 Friday night.

About 500 line and tree crews for PSNH worked to restore power yesterday, and several were expected to work through the night.

In Southern New Hampshire, there were a number of areas where the entire electrical system must be rebuilt from the ground up, PSNH officials said.

In Atkinson, Unitil crews spent yesterday rebuilding a main transmission line in town that went down in the ice storm, Atkinson fire Chief Mike Murphy said. The line provides electric power to about 80 percent of the town.

"A crew worked all day (yesterday) to put the line back up," Murphy said. "Now, they can start working on the feeders. Power was restored to municipal buildings on Academy Avenue by about 6 p.m., but only about 1 percent of the town has had power restored."

Atkinson officials held a special meeting yesterday to talk about the lack of power in town and contacted Unitil. A company representative said crews were doing the best they could, Murphy said.

In Windham, about 80 percent of residents were still without power last night, fire Chief Tom McPherson said. "Hopefully, a good percentage will have their power restored by midnight (today)," he said. "Many of the neighborhoods are completely dark except for houses with emergency generators."

A larger percentage of residents in other towns, including Derry and Salem, had their power back on by last night, fire officials said. But many were still without electricity.

In Derry - one of the communities hit the hardest - about 50 to 60 percent were still without power last night, In Salem, about 25 to 30 percent were still waiting for their power to be turned back on.

Salem, Windham and Derry fire officials warned residents to be careful when using gas-powered generators, which emit dangerous fumes. One generator being used outside a trailer home in Danville caused the death of a man Friday.

In Salem, two people from the same home were rushed to a Boston hospital Saturday night with carbon monoxide poisoning. They were operating a generator in their basement, Salem Fire Marshal Jeff Emanuelson said. Their names were not available. Emanuelson said he believed they were placed inside a hyperbaric chamber as part of their treatment. The name of the hospital they were taken to was not available.

Emanuelson and other local fire officials said generators should not be operated inside or near a building, including an attached garage.

Yesterday, people without power were still taking advantage of area emergency shelters, including one at Londonderry High School where 145 people were staying yesterday afternoon. While some stayed at the shelter overnight, including 180 Friday night, some just stopped by for food or to take a shower, Red Cross officials said.

Without power or running water, the McCulloch family in Derry traveled to the shelter at Londonderry High for a shower and something to eat yesterday.

"It was really refreshing," Robert McCulloch said of the shower. "It took our mind off what we we're dealing with at night - keeping an eye on the fire in our wood stove to keep our house warm."

McCulloch, his wife, Trudy, and their daughters, Victoria, 10, and Natalie, 8, all took advantage of the shower facilities at the American Red Cross shelter at Londonderry High, one of the biggest shelters in New Hampshire. They also ate some sandwiches and recharged their cell phones during their stop at the shelter.

"We hope the power will be back on in our house as soon as possible," Trudy McCulloch said.

Brenda Tessier-Duquette and her husband, Peter Duquette, went to the shelter yesterday because of frigid conditions at their home in Litchfield.

"We have no idea when our heat and electricity is going to come back on," Tessier-Duquette said. "We could see our breath inside our house. The water bowl for our cat was covered with a thin layer of ice, with a small opening in the center."

Shoppers at Hannaford supermarket in Hampstead didn't have much produce to pick from yesterday as the store operated on limited power from a generator. A store manager announced to customers that the store was out of everything except milk and eggs.

Handwritten signs on the milk case read, "Good milk!" meaning it hadn't spoiled like other perishables. Store workers blocked the frozen food aisle, where items, including ice cream, had melted.

Lennie Bergeron of Danville, who had been without power since Thursday night, said he came to Hannaford to get some hot dogs for his grandson. With all the meat sold out or spoiled, he had to settle for Cheetos, a chocolate bar, paper towels and a pack of cigarettes.

Two wood stoves at his home were keeping him and his wife warm, but the loss of power caused his frozen food to start to defrost. Bergeron said he placed the defrosting food on his deck, including two steaks he was planning to cook on his gas grill for dinner Saturday night. But they turned into dinner for his dog, Lacey, who gobbled them up when they fell off the railing, Bergeron said.

Nancy Davine of Hampstead, who lost power but was keeping warm with a wood stove, said she was keeping a close eye on a neighbor across the street who lives alone and has no heat or electricity.

Her neighbor, an elderly woman with no family, spent Saturday afternoon at Davine's house warming up, but she wouldn't stay there overnight, insisting on sleeping in her cold house, Davine said.

While many people stayed with relatives or braved the frigid conditions in their homes, many residents enjoyed relative comfort thanks to portable generators and wood stoves.

Rob and Diana Farrell and their two daughters of Hampstead were among them. They had their generator connected about a half an hour after losing power at their home on Cortland Road in Hampstead.

The generator provides enough electricity to power their hot water heater, refrigerator, microwave, some lights, and even their VCR and television to allow their daughters, Samantha, 11, and Lindsey, 5, to watch movies.

In Plaistow, Merilyn Senter and her husband were pleasantly surprised when a neighbor, Dana Charest, used a long extension cord to connect his generator to their electric heater.

"I just thought it was so neat," she said. "He's a super guy."

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