'Tranquil weather' and power outages through the end of the week

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Thursday, December 26, 2013 - 9:00am

As the weather goes, there's good news and bad news.

First the good news: Travelers heading home Thursday shouldn't run into any more storms. The National Weather Service predicts "tranquil weather" for the rest of the week.

Only Michigan and Maine should see significant fresh snow, but not too, too much. But with highs only in the 20s, piles of white already on the ground are likely to stick around.

Now the bad news: Some people returning to those northerly regions will get home to power outages that may not be fixed until the weekend. And tree limbs could snap under icy burdens built up for three days, creating new outages.

Power to the people

Power crews are working around the clock and have called in reinforcements from other states to help them wrangle electric lines back into place.

They have made a lot of progress. Of the 470,000 customers left in the dark and cold earlier in the week in Michigan, all but 125,000 had electricity restored by late Wednesday.

Utility crews have had to work against icebox weather conditions. One utility truck flipped over on a Michigan interstate Wednesday, as a dozen cars and trucks wiped out on the same patch of ice, CNN affiliate WOOD reported.

Electrical grids elsewhere are rapidly healing from the frost bite. About 72,000 Toronto-area customers still were without power Wednesday night, utility Toronto Hydro said. That's down from 300,000 at the winter weather's peak.

About 700 customers had no power in parts of Vermont on Wednesday night. Roughly 45,000 people faced the evening in the dark in Maine.

Room at the inn

The storm clouds had a silver lining for some who lost power. They found generosity and new friends on Christmas after turning to shelters to stay warm.

Nearly 370 people took refuge Wednesday in Red Cross shelters in Michigan, Vermont and Maine, according to the relief group's online shelter tracker.

"Friends and family." That's how Bonnie Libby described her shelter mates to WOOD after living with them for three days.

The outage was a cure for loneliness on Christmas Day for Larry Sutherland. "I would be spending it alone, and my Christmas dinner would be a microwave meal," he said.

On Christmas Eve, power crews put the lights back on at the house of Dennis and Daisy Davis, but Christmas at home no longer felt right, and they returned to the Red Cross Shelter.

"I think it is just all the people pulling together," Daisy Davis told WOOD. "I think it is the true meaning of Christmas."

Bonita Thomas wanted to host her grandchildren in her Flint-area apartment for Christmas, but falling trees nixed the power to her building on Monday, and she began to shiver.

She wrapped herself in layers. But when temperatures fell to the single digits, it was too much -- she called her grandkids' father, told them to stay home, and she went to a Red Cross shelter.

Thomas was sad that she couldn't host her grandchildren, but she's grateful for the room and board, she told CNN.

"It's kind of depressing, but I just believe ... that God's still on my side. And there's room at the inn."

-- CNN's Stephanie Gallman, Kevin Conlon, Carma Hassan and Matt Daniel contributed to this report.

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