PORTLAND, Maine – Utility officials trying to recover from the devastating ice storm in the Northeast warned there could be more outages in southern areas Sunday as drooping branches shed ice and snap back to their original positions, potentially taking out more power lines.
Roughly 649,000 customers were still without power in upstate New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine by Sunday morning.
Bangor Hydro-Electric, which was spared the brunt of the damage, said everyone in its service area was back on line Sunday morning.
Central Maine Power said the number of customers still in the dark because of the ice storm had dropped below 79,000 by midafternoon Sunday, with most of them in York County.
The utility said it was making good progress Sunday and expected to complete repairs in more than 20 northern and inland towns by dark. But spokesman John Carroll said many homes in coastal towns west of Damariscotta and through Cumberland and York counties will be out for at least another night.
The utility’s storm-related outages peaked at 220,000 Friday.
CMP is getting help from Michigan, New York and the Canadian Maritimes, which have sent crews to help in the restoration effort.
Gov. John Baldacci has described the storm as “kind of a mini-version” of the epic ice storm of 1998, which affected the entire state and hit rural areas the hardest.
New Hampshire was hit hardest by the storm, and utilities there said power might not be totally restored to the region until Thursday or Friday, a week after the storm knocked down utility lines, poles and equipment and blacked out 1.4 million homes and businesses.
President Bush declared a state of emergency in the Granite State and in nine of Massachusetts’ 14 counties late Saturday, directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide relief assistance.
Temperatures early Sunday were largely in the teens and 20s, with single-digit readings in much of Maine. The low at Concord, N.H., was just 9 degrees, the National Weather Service said.