Frigid weather conditions brought many in the Great Lakes and New England regions a not so welcome white Christmas on Wednesday. More than half a million people in the U.S. and Canada were without power as the ice brought power and utility poles to the ground, CBS News reported.
On Christmas Day 300,000 residents alone were without power, the utility company Toronto Hydro told CNN. Hundreds of thousands more in Vermont, Maine and Michigan celebrated the day in the cold or with generator power.
Utility crews continue to work around the clock but said that many people may not receive power until Saturday due to the continuous snow which is making it increasingly difficult to reach many of the affected residents.
"Unfortunately, what's happening is, because the temperatures are remaining below freezing, the ice is not melting," Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd told USA Today. "Things are continuing to fail."
Utility companies encouraged residents without power to leave their homes, while the companies continue to work on bringing power back.
"What we're recommending is, if they don't have a relative they can stay with, that they call 211," Dodd said. "That puts them in contact with their nearest United Way agency."
Homeless shelters offered families without power a warm refuge on Christmas Day.
"It's definitely kind of strange, but we're hanging in there," Ashley Walter of Litchfield, Maine told the Associated Press of her Christmas plans to remain at the warming shelter in Litchfield. Her family lost power to their home Saturday and has been staying there ever since.
In Michigan, the Red Cross has also set up mobile food trucks to provide meals for families without power.
People are being warned to stay off the roads, especially during the evenings.
"Travel conditions are becoming life-threatening with icy conditions paired with downed power lines and fallen trees," town officials from Ellsworth, Maine said in a statement. "Especially after sunset, it will become difficult to see the downed power lines and trees, contributing to even more hazardous conditions."
CBS News reports the storm is responsible for at least 24 deaths. Some were caused from carbon monoxide poisoning while others are the result of accidents caused by inclement road conditions.