ICE STORMS BATTER STORES IN NORTHEAST

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Checkout clerks at the Price Chopper supermarket here rang up sales on pocket calculators and other associates escorted customers through the aisles with flashlights after a devastating ice storm knocked out power lines early last week. l under a state of emergency toward the end of last week, as power companies scrambled to restore electricity to some 120,000 customers. The storm

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Checkout clerks at the Price Chopper supermarket here rang up sales on pocket calculators and other associates escorted customers through the aisles with flashlights after a devastating ice storm knocked out power lines early last week.

l under a state of emergency toward the end of last week, as power companies scrambled to restore electricity to some 120,000 customers. The storm also caused power outages in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

In the worst-hit parts of New York, police enforced a 5 p.m. curfew to keep motorists off hazardous roads.

"Our trucks are not allowed to go up to Watertown," said Joanne Gage, a spokeswoman for Price Chopper Supermarkets, Schenectady, N.Y. "There is no transportation to the area."

Gage said Price Chopper stores in Ogdensburg and Plattsburgh, N.Y., were also affected, but made it through the storm with the help of backup generators. Four units in Burlington, Vt., were also affected by the same storm.

Price Chopper is currently donating supplies -- water, diapers, fruit juices and soups -- to relief efforts, she added.

Hannaford Bros., Scarborough, Maine, which has 46 stores in Maine, was able to keep its stores up and running through most of the storm, although 12 were forced to use backup generators for one to two days, according to spokeswoman Susan Pierter.

Because the chain has warehouses in both Maine and New York, stores in affected areas have been well stocked, Pierter said.

"Our customers and associates are feeling the effects of the storm and we are now working with the Red Cross and other relief efforts in our communities," she said.

Kmart, Troy, Mich., said it closed 12 stores in the Northeast, but had reopened all but two as of last week. Kmart made a $20,000 donation to the American Red Cross to help relief efforts in the region.

In southeastern Canada, 3 million people around Montreal and Ottawa were left without power by the storm, officials said.

Montreal-based Provigo was forced to move perishables from 45 stores without refrigeration to others in the chain. Stores swelled as customers rushed to stock up on essentials, the company said.

Metro-Richelieu, Montreal, launched a fund-raising campaign to benefit Red Cross efforts last week, and contributed $100,000 to that fund.

"More than 500 Metro Super C and Marche Richelieu retailers across Quebec, along with their staff members, are putting their shoulders to the wheel in order to encourage their customers to contribute voluntarily to the fund," said Robert Sawyer, senior vice president of retailing.

The suggested donation is $1 per customer. The goal is $500,000, he added.

All the money raised will be given to the Red Cross, which is already supporting more than 300 shelters for ice storm victims. On the West Coast, a separate ice storm blasted western Oregon and most of Washington.

Rob Boley, a spokesman for Fred Meyer Inc., Portland, Ore., said the company's stores did a brisk business before the storm hit, with strong sales of food products, candles, batteries nd emergency supplies.

"We were in pretty good shape getting product to the stores, and we had huge sales over the weekend, before the storm, when people were stocking up," Boley told SN. "Sales dropped off during the bad weather.

"On Sunday we had a huge rush for ice-related products," he said, noting de-icers, scrapers, salt and tire chains.

The stores stayed operational throughout the three-day blast with the help of backup generators.

Fred Meyer told employees to come to work only if it was safe to do so, and they still had adequate staff, Boley said.

In other parts of the United States, rains overflowed rivers and melted snow on the ground, causing major flooding in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee.