November 25, 2013

Power outtages mostly in Franklin, Oxford, Somerset counties

Central Maine Power Company will have crews working throughout the day today to restore power to an estimated 5,000 customers still without power.

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

An elderly woman who needed help in rural Madison and a big old tree that fell in downtown Skowhegan showed Sunday just how destructive, inconvenient and potentially dangerous high wind and frigid temperatures can be.

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ROAD HAZARD: Oakland firefighter Anthony Thibodeau, left, and Capt. Dave Groder cut and move a tree that fell and blocked part of the East Pond Road in Oakland due to the strong winds on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. Groder said there were numerous reports of fallen trees and downed power lines in Belgrade and Somerset County.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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SNAP: Charles Hutchins Sr., left, and John Richardson survey the scene on Monday, where a pine tree snapped in high winds on Sunday and crashed near the Swinging Bridge in Skowhegan.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Power returns late Monday

By 4 p.m. Monday, Central Maine Power Co. reported that its crews were in the final stages of restoring power to customers who lost service when high winds blew through Maine on Sunday.

About 1,800 customers remained without service, mostly in Franklin, Oxford, Androscoggin, and Somerset counties.

CMP had completed repairs to virtually all affected customers in Cumberland, York, Lincoln, Kennebec, and Sagadahoc counties by midafternoon Monday, according to company news release. The company expected most of the remaining customers to have service back by late evening.

Remaining power outages by county at 4 p.m. Monday:

Franklin: 1,004

Somerset: 373

Androscoggin: 258

Oxford: 156

Total: 1,791

Central Maine Power Co. officials estimate that 48,500 customers lost power at some point during the storm and nearly 50 poles were broken when high winds toppled trees and blew limbs into power lines.

By late Monday an estimated 1,800 customers remained without power, mostly in Franklin, Somerset, Oxford and Androscoggin counties. The company expected most of the remaining customers to have service back by late evening.

Weather forecasts call for another storm to come through the area midweek — just in time for Thanksgiving travel, one of the busiest travel times of the year.

In Madison, police responded to a 911 call late Sunday afternoon from an 85-year-old woman on Horsetail Hill Road, part of Route 43, who told dispatchers it was getting dark, she was cold and the power had been off for a long time. Trees were down everywhere in the area and Central Maine Power Co. line workers were slowly restoring power.

“I asked (her) how she felt and she stated that she was getting cold,” Officer Wade Walker said in his report. “I advised (her) that I would check back on her a little later.”

Walker said the woman also was concerned that a shutter on her window was banging hard against the house and might break the window. He said he removed the shutter and left his card with the woman and told her to call back if she needed help.

An hour later the woman called saying she had a pain in her chest from the cold. Walker returned to her home and notified the dispatch center to send an ambulance to take her to Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan to be checked.

On Monday, the woman was returned to her home after power there was restored.

In Skowhegan, a roughly 100-foot-tall pine tree that crashed onto the entrance of the town’s historic Swinging Bridge was the among damage from the high wind.

The bridge itself was not damaged, but guide wires that are part of the bridge’s suspension were struck by the tree.

The tree snapped about 20 feet from the ground and was one of three large ones in a small, town-owned park behind the Federated Church on Island Avenue.

Skowhegan Road Commissioner Greg Dore said town highway crews were waiting for power company workers to disconnect electrical lines and a transformer downed before beginning the clean up operation. A utility pole with a park light also was knocked down by the falling tree, which shattered into several large pieces and blocked access to the bridge. Dore said by 5 p.m. Monday that CMP workers had not yet gotten to the tree.

CMP line crews worked throughout the day Monday to restore power to customers who lost service. Wind chills overnight Sunday were near or below zero, with actual temperatures in the low teens by Monday morning.

Power restoration was particularly challenging in parts of Franklin, Oxford, and Somerset Counties, where storm debris closed roads and blocked access to some of the most remote parts of the company’s service area, according to a CMP release from Gail N. Rice.

An estimated 300 people, including line workers, pole-setting crews, tree crews, assessors, safety specialists and supervisors worked on service restoration Monday, Rice said.

Sunday was a day of sustained wind of 20-30 mph with gusts close to 50 mph. Trees, utility poles and wires were reported down in dozens of communities, in some instances sparking grass and brush fires from live wires.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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DOWN AND OUT: Charles Hutchins Sr. on Monday struggles to walk around a pine tree that broke during high winds and fell Sunday night near the Swinging Bridge in Skowhegan. Hutchins said a friend who lives nearby told him it sounded like an explosion when the tree broke.

Staff photo by David Leaming


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