Saturday, March 8, 2014
Almost 8,000 Central Maine Power customers were still without power this morning following a storm Thursday that knocked out power to more than 90,000 customers.
Mike Baker, left, backs under a smelt shack that Brandon Sutherburg, right, and Jeb Baker recovered Thursday on the Kennebec River in Pittston. Shacks at smelt camp operations the length of the river moved across the ice from high wind that gusted up to 50 miles-per-hour. Bakers Smelt Camps had a half dozen get blown away with one still stranded near the center of the river on thin ice, Baker said.
Staff photo by Andy Molloy
Augusta Police officer Paul Doody directs traffic at an intersection on Western Avenue Thursday following widespread power outages from high winds. Thousands of Maine residents were without power from gusts that reached up to 50 miles per hour.
Staff photo by Andy Molloy
CMP spokesman John Carroll said Friday morning that about 7,900 customers remained without power, including 1,800 in Lincoln County and 460 in Kennebec County. He said the crews had restored power to a total 95,000 customers since Thursday morning.
“We have brought extra contract crews into the areas where we have the most remaining outages, and we’ll continue to move more crews into those areas until we have everyone back, which should be late this afternoon,” Carroll said. “Weather permitting, we will also send up a helicopter to inspect sections of our transmission system to ensure we spot any damage that wasn’t visible overnight.”
Thousands of Mainers across central Maine were left without power Thursday and smelt shacks on the Kennebec River were swept away in advance of a cold front that by this morning dropped Maine back into a deep freeze even as the temperature hovered in the 40s and 50s.
Augusta City Center lost electricity for a time Thursday morning, but got it back around 10 a.m., according to officials.
The Augusta campus of MaineGeneral Medical Center lost power for about 45 minutes, according to hospital spokeswoman Diane Peterson, and several of the hospital's surrounding outbuildings also lost power for about an hour.
"The generators took over immediately and there was minor impact," said Peterson. "CMP is very good about getting us back up quickly."
Airline Cape Air canceled its two morning flights out of Augusta, to Boston, because of the high wind.
Most power was restored during the day Thusrday. Carroll said about 22,000 customers in the company's coverage area were without power statewide as of about 4:30 p.m.
Carroll said utility crews battled the elements, which included not only wind but ice-covered roads that caused one CMP utility truck to slide into a ditch on David Pond Road in Litchfield. No one was hurt, but crews left the truck in place until conditions improved, Carroll said.
"The company determined that it was safer to leave it there overnight rather than try to extract it in the dark on such slippery roads," Carroll said.
Wind gusts hit 54 mph in Augusta, and 49 mph at the Portland International Jetport, the Associated Press reported.
The heavy wind and rain-slicked ice led to several smelt-fishing shacks on the Kennebec River -- reports came from Richmond and between Randolph and Gardiner -- being blown from their spots and racing upriver on the ice.
In Pittston, shacks at smelt camp operations the length of the river moved across the ice, and a half-dozen shacks were blown away at Bakers Smelt Camps, with one still stranded near the center of the river on thin ice. At Jimmy Worthing's Smelt Camps in Randolph, standing water on top of black ice made it look like open water, but it had iced over. Worthing said there was about a foot of ice under the shacks.
Locations without power Thursday morning also included the elementary, middle and high schools in Richmond.
Virgel Hammonds, superintendent of Hallowell-based Regional School Unit 2, said on his Facebook page that Richmond schools would dismiss students at noon -- after students were fed lunch.
In Gardiner, traffic lights were out during the morning at the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Bridge between Gardiner and Randolph.
Firefighters and police responded to numerous reports of downed wires and trees. No injuries were reported.
Whitefield Fire Chief Scott Higgins said his crew was called to a chimney fire shortly during the early morning hours Thursday on Hunts Meadow Road. Firefighters were called back to the station several hours later for numerous reports of downed limbs and wires.
"It's county-wide," Higgins said.
Lack of snow forced organizers to cancel the annual winter carnival scheduled for Saturday at Quarry Road Recreation Area in Waterville.
This is the second year the event has been canceled because of weather and poor conditions.
In Skowhegan, organizers of the 21st annual Lake George Regional Park Winter Carnival scheduled for Saturday canceled the Sled Box Derby Race.
The ice fishing derby, chili cook-off and other events remained on the schedule, according to park director Jeff McCabe.
The weekend will be cold in central Maine, with accumulation of a couple of inches of snow expected Sunday night into Monday, she said. Temperatures are expected to be around 30 on Sunday and in the upper 20s on Monday, according to Margaret Curtis of the National Weather Service in Gray.
Staff writer Betty Adams contributed to this report.
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A downed tree hanging on utility wires blocks Lunts Hill Road at 1:38 on Thursday in Litchfield.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
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A Central Maine Power truck slid off David Pond Road in Fayette Thursday morning, just off the East Road.
Photo courtesy of Fred Jackman