December 23, 2013

Central Maine residents stay home as storm coats area with ice

Outages in Kennebec and Somerset counties climb, Waterville stores close and Santa stays home, as freezing rain continues to fall.

By Matt Hongoltz-hetling And Keith Edwards
Staff Writers

(Continued from page 1)

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ICEY DICEY: A snowplow clears Mayflower Hill Drive in Waterville as a major ice storm rolls through the state on Sunday morning.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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ICEY DICEY: A lone car drives north on Interstate 95 in Waterville as a dangerous wintry mix of ice and snow falls on Sunday morning.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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He shrugged.

“It’s Maine,” he said. “What are you gonna do?”

Lost power, sales

Many area business owners — and Santa Claus — stayed home rather than face the icy weather.

On Waterville’s Main Street, Downtown Smoothies and Jorgensen’s Cafe, both restaurants, were closed early Sunday afternoon, as was Kringleville, where Santa had been scheduled to hold court from noon until 6:30 p.m. for the last time before Christmas.

Signs in the windows said the businesses were closed because of the weather.

The number of power outages reported by Central Maine Power grew steadily throughout the morning, from less than 1,000 around 7 a.m. to more than 4,500 by 11 a.m. For the rest of the day, the number fluctuated, as restorations took place and new outages were reported.

At noon, as had been the case for most of the morning, the large majority of the outages were in Somerset County, where 2,300 were without power, and Kennebec County, where about 1,200 customers were without power.

In Kennebec County, most of the outages were in Monmouth, Wayne, Winthrop and Augusta, while smaller numbers of outages were reported in Pittston, Fayette, Manchester, Randolph, Readfield and Rome.

At noon in Somerset County, there were widespread outages in Norridgewock, where the power company reported more than 1,200 of 1,600 customers were without power; in Mercer, where 421 of 435 customers were without power; and in Smithfield, where 509 of 760 customers were without power.

Bill Pullen, the principal of Mill Stream Elementary School in Norridgewock, said in the early afternoon that he hadn’t received any reports of the school having lost power.

Small numbers of outages were also reported in Fairfield and Skowhegan.

Central Maine Power reported that power was restored to all Somerset County residents by about noon.

In the mid-afternoon, the number of outages began to climb once again. By 4 p.m., Central Maine Power was reporting more than 3,700 outages, with 1,500 of those in Hancock County and about 1,000 each in Kennebec and Waldo counties, including 623 in Augusta.

In the early afternoon, Bangor Hydro reported about 15,700 customers being without power, mostly in Hancock and Washington Counties, while Eastern Maine Electric reported about 500 customers without power.

In the late afternoon, Bangor Hydro reported that the number of customers without power was down to about 7,500.

Municipal plowers keep pace

Public works directors throughout central Maine described the challenges they were facing in keeping the roads clear.

Lesley Jones, Augusta’s public works director, said most of the city’s roads were passable and crews reported few, if any, trees down. Crews were out Friday night, Saturday morning, and again starting at 1 a.m. Sunday, sanding and salting roads.

“There’s a bit of ice on the trees, but it doesn’t quite compare to ’98 yet,” Jones said. “The long duration of this storm is what’s hard.”

Jones said a smaller city crew will do minimal maintenance today to keep roads passable, and she planned “to come in after midnight with a whole crew and clean everything up before it gets cold.”

“There’s a small window of time when we can get them clean. Right now we’re concentrating our efforts on the main drags and country roads and the trouble spots and hills on the side streets.”

She said it was helpful that not many motorists were out on the roads.

In Farmington, Public Works director Denis Castonguay described the difficulties of dealing with rapidly shifting weather as the town experienced alternating bouts of cold, warmth, sleet, rain and snow.

“The storms continue to come, rapid-fire,” he said. “We were called out several times Friday night and again on Saturday night.”

(Continued on page 3)

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Additional Photos

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ICEY DICEY: Ray Pelkey, 27, of Waterville, wanders the streets during Sunday morning’s storm.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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ICEY DICEY: Icicles drip from the edges of picnic tables at Quarry Road Recreational Area in Waterville on Sunday morning.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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ICEY DICEY: Traffic moves slowly on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville early Sunday morning as a major ice storm grips the area.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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