Windy weather slows efforts to restore power

Kyle Grey, a waiter at the Sea Dog restaurant in Bangor, walks through water to get to his car which was surrounded by high tide floodwater from the Penobscot River under the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge in Bangor Monday, March 1, 2010.  &quotOne of the the guys came around and warned us that the river was flooding the parking lot.  It's not the worst I have seen it but I'm glad I got out here to move my car before the water got higher," Grey said. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
BDN
Kyle Grey, a waiter at the Sea Dog restaurant in Bangor, walks through water to get to his car which was surrounded by high tide floodwater from the Penobscot River under the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge in Bangor Monday, March 1, 2010. "One of the the guys came around and warned us that the river was flooding the parking lot. It's not the worst I have seen it but I'm glad I got out here to move my car before the water got higher," Grey said. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
Posted March 01, 2010, at 3:49 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:47 a.m.

Many of the more than 1 million Northeastern homes and businesses plunged into the dark by a storm had electricity Monday, three days after the hard-hitting combination of snow, rain and hurricane-force winds.

The weather was mostly calm Monday in New Hampshire, where some 360,000 residential and business customers were without electricity at the height of the storm, but blustery weather temporarily increased some outages in Maine and slowed restoration efforts.

In Maine on Monday afternoon, the number was about 10,000 customers without electricity for Central Maine Power, the state’s largest utility, down from about 12,700 just before noon Monday and about 1,000 fewer than what had been reported 12 hours earlier.

Just before noon Monday, 268 were without power in Knox County and just 68 in Waldo County. Most of the remaining outages were farther south along the coast, including 3,481 without power in Lincoln County late Monday morning, and several thousand each in Sagadahoc, Cumberland and York counties.

By 5 p.m., CMP was reporting 58 outages in Knox, 70 in Waldo and 936 in Lincoln County, with about 4,700 out in southern areas of the state.

Reports of outages caused by falling trees and broken utility poles were received from communities along the midcoast Monday morning, adding to the total of 335 broken poles from the recent storm. CMP said it had more than 1,200 workers involved in the storm restoration, including more than 800 field personnel clearing trees, replacing poles and repairing lines.

John Carroll, utility spokesman, backed off a pledge to have power restored for everyone Monday night.

“This is clearly going to make it more difficult to reach our goal,” he said.

The weather played a role in a search-and-rescue operation at Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain ski resort after four snowboarders left the ski area’s boundaries. More than 5 feet of snow that fell since Wednesday made it tough for both rescuers and snowboarders, who spent the night on the mountain. All four snowboarders were lo-cated eventually.

In Washington County, Monday began with more than 2,190 homes without electricity, according to Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.

Heavy, wind-driven snow in the morning evolved into rain by midday. By late afternoon, the precipitation was minimal, the winds had diminished, and the number of customers without power was reduced by midafternoon to just four.

About 100 customers were without power in Hancock County by midafternoon Monday.

No weather-related accidents or emergencies were reported Monday in Washington or Hancock counties.

“We are pretty close to being cleared up,” Bangor Hydro spokeswoman Susan Faloon said Monday afternoon. She said service could be restored quickly because most of the storm damage was to one major transmission line in the Lubec and Cutler area.

“We didn’t fare as badly this time around,” she said. “It was a welcome relief.”

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch called restoration efforts in his state “the most rapid” he has ever seen after a storm, and by Monday afternoon, about 40,000 customers remained without power.

The number of power outages at the peak in New Hampshire was second only to more than 400,000 reported in a massive ice storm in December 2008. Officials said better communication among utilities themselves and with local and state government officials was an important lesson from that storm.

“We saw this storm system coming probably five days in advance, and we were concerned enough that we started booking crews,” said Carol Valianti, a vice president of Unitil, which completed power restoration to almost all of its 60,000 affected customers Monday.

The utility brought in crews from Canada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere in New England to help, she said.

Authorities in Massachusetts and Vermont said Monday they had restored power to nearly all customers. New York state had the number of outages down to about 43,000 on Monday afternoon but said some of the hardest-hit areas wouldn’t have power back until Tuesday or Wednesday night.

BDN writer Sharon Kiley Mack in Machias and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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