Mainers, utility companies prepare for storm’s arrival

Posted Oct. 28, 2012, at 9:19 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — Water was getting low at Danforth’s Supermarket as patrons stocked up on essentials in preparation for Hurricane Sandy on Sunday.

“We’re getting close on water, quite honestly,” said evening manager Kevin Valley on Sunday afternoon. “That’s the big thing right now. We didn’t expect quite the rush on the water.”

Valley said bread, soda and beer also topped the list for products being stocked up on in preparation for nasty weather.

Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall Monday evening on the New Jersey coast, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Kistner.

“As for here in Maine, expect the winds to be picking up throughout the day [Monday],” he said.

Gov. Paul LePage issued a limited emergency declaration on Friday, enabling utility workers from outside Maine to help restore power, if necessary.

Listner said a conservative estimate on rainfall was 1 to 3 inches for the state, with mountain areas seeing more rain.

“There will be some coastal flooding, but it doesn’t look like it will be significant,” said Listner, who added that there will likely be quite a bit of beach erosion.

Wind gusts between 50 and 60 mph are expected in western Maine, said Kistner.

“For a short period overnight, definitely 70 mph gusts won’t be out of the question for areas along the coast,” he said.

Rockland Harbor Master Ed Glaser said a good thing for the area is that nearly all the boats have been hauled in for the season or were being hauled in over the weekend. He said the city plans to pull up its remaining floats Monday morning.

“It’s a good thing that it’s happening late in the season. We’re treating it more like a winter storm,” Glaser said.

Rockland department heads will be meeting with the Knox County Emergency Management Agency on Monday to make sure all preparations have been made, the harbor master said.

High tides in Rockland are scheduled for 11:24 a.m. and 11:54 p.m. Monday as well as 12:02 p.m. Tuesday.

Kistner likened the effects of the storm to last year’s Hurricane Irene, which also saw wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph that knocked out power in many places in the state.

“In southwest Maine, there were 60,000 people without power [after Irene],” he said. “We could see something comparable to that as far as power outages go.”

Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro Electric Company said they are getting crews ready to prepare for power losses.

“We put all of our employees on notice and began lining up extra crews last week,” said CMP spokesman John Carroll in a statement. “Several dozen crews arrived from New Brunswick on Sunday, and more local contract crews will be ready to start work on Monday morning after a companywide safety stand down.”

Brewer Public Works Director Dave Cote said his crews have been preparing for the storm.

“We’ll be looking to try to keep the catch basins cleared out of leaves,” said Cote. “That will be a never-ending battle as wind and rain will knock them off the trees.”

Chainsaws and generators are being checked to make sure they are in working order, he said.

Cote said he doesn’t expect Hurricane Sandy to be as damaging as last week’s rain storm, which dumped nearly 1½ inches of rain in a matter of hours in the Bangor area.

Regardless, crews in Brewer are coordinating to avoid problems. Brewer’s public works, waste water, police and fire departments will meet together along with the city manager on Monday to review plans.

“We’re preparing for the worst and hope it won’t be as bad as we prepare for,” said Cote.

At Danforth’s, Valley urged people to be prepared for a few days, but stocking up for weeks was unnecessary.

“I think it is [a good idea to get food now],” said Valley. “Not ridiculous amounts, but you do need to be prepared.”

Will Pelletier of Carmel said he was grabbing some essentials while shopping on Sunday.

“You have to grab food now while you can, because what are you going to have later on?” Pelletier said. “You have to have some meat, eggs, cheese — sandwich stuff.”

Pelletier said batteries, propane and kerosene were also on his list.

Valley said he was worried about getting grocery items into the store for next week.

“Because of how shipping is done in the grocery industry — it comes from Florida, it comes from Maryland — all those areas are being affected right now,” he said. “So there probably would be shortages for next week.”

Meteorologist Kistner said he expects winds to start backing down early Tuesday morning, but gusty winds should be expected throughout the day.

In Aroostook County, Maine Public Service Co. did not expect that the region would see a big impact from the storm.

Still, Virginia Joles, spokesperson for the company, said that Maine Public Service employees are on standby to assist utilities to the south. The company has postponed their employee meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in order to focus on storm preparation and assist with restoration efforts statewide.

Joles said that the company was encouraging its customers to be prepared for the storm by stocking up on supplies such as food, fresh water, batteries, flashlights and more and reporting outages if they occur.

Acadia National Park is warning that the hurricane may cause some closures, according to the park’s website, including the Blackwoods Campground.

BDN writers Stephen Betts and Jen Lynds contributed to this report.

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