Nearly 55,000 still without power as Irene clean-up continues in Maine

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 30, 2011, at 11:41 a.m.

Power companies continue to clean up after Irene, with approximately 55,000 Mainers still in the dark Tuesday.

In a prepared statement, Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday that getting power restored to all Mainers was his top priority. As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, approximately 55,000 Central Maine Power customers were still without power, according to a statement from the company. CMP officials said they expected to cut that number to 50,000 by the end of the day.

In a separate statement released around 3:20 p.m., Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. indicated it had fewer than 270 customers without power. Of those, about 170 were in Hancock County and roughly 100 were in the Bangor region.

“I appreciate the hard work and long hours utility crews have put in to restore power,” LePage said in his prepared release. “I ask Mainers who are still without electricity to remain patient. I do not intend to lift the state of emergency until all Mainers have the lights back on.”

Cumberland County had the most outages Tuesday night, with more than 17,000 homes and businesses in the dark. More than 11,000 customers were without power in York County. Western and southern Maine were hit harder by Irene than communities in eastern Maine.

Bangor Hydro indicated in the release that it is getting help in the form of extra line crews from Maine Public Service in Aroostook County and from Nova Scotia. Bangor Hydro is owned by Emera, which is based in the Canadian province.

The company said some customers in more remote areas who are still without power may not get it back until Wednesday.

Maine officials are in the process of assessing damage from the storm to determine if the state will be eligible for disaster assistance, according to state officials. People who are having trouble finding help in cleaning up their properties can call 211 to inquire about volunteer assistance services.

LePage has authorized Maine Department of Transportation fast-track authority to replace two bridges on Route 27 in Carrabassett Valley that washed away in the storm, state officials said.

“Getting the Route 27 corridor back in action is essential to Maine’s economic relationship with Canada, as well as the western Maine tourism industry and the way of life for area residents,” LePage said. “My administration will be doing everything we can to get this important road back open.”

Most state parks that were closed because of the storm since have reopened, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. None of the state buildings at any of the parks and lands sites were damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, officials indicated in the statement.

Mackworth Island in Falmouth and Sebago Lake State Park both remained closed on Monday because of tree damage. Parks and Lands officials said Mackworth Island was expected to open Tuesday but Sebago Lake State Park is not expected to open until Friday because of the tree damage and lack of electricity.

One town that was completely without power since early Monday morning was Cranberry Isles, a community of islands off Mount Desert Island that have an estimated summertime population of more than 500 people.

Richard Beal, chairman of the town’s Board of Selectmen, said around 10 a.m. Tuesday that some island residents just had their power restored and that he expected all the islands would get their electricity back within the hour.

“Bangor Hydro was just here in my yard,” he said.

The town does not have a water system, so when the power went out around 1:30 a.m. Monday so did the water supply for residents who don’t have generators, Beal said. He said community buildings on each of the town’s two main islands, Great Cranberry and Islesford, have generators and were opened up Monday night to provide residents with working kitchens, running water and places to charge cellphones.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/08/30/news/hancock/irene-related-power-outages-continue/ printed on November 22, 2014