BANGOR, Maine — Some of Bangor Hydro Electric Co.’s more isolated customers could go without power into the weekend, officials said during a Tuesday news conference.
Many more will not have their power restored for Christmas morning Wednesday, according to Gerry Chasse, president of Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service. Bangor Hydro and the Penobscot County Emergency Management Agency called the Tuesday afternoon press conference to update area residents on the severity of the damage from the recent ice storm.
Chasse said Bangor Hydro had about 30,000 customers without power as of 1 p.m. Tuesday and asked people to keep an eye on neighbors, family and friends until power is restored. By 6 p.m. the number of outages had been reduced to 15,963. By 6 a.m. Christmas morning, that number increased slightly to 16,618.
“We expect that some customers may be without even beyond Friday,” he said.
Central Maine Power reported more than 68,000 outages, mostly in Kennebec and Waldo counties, as of 6 p.m. Tuesday. By 6 a.m. Christmas morning, that number was down to 54, 938.
Luckily, the weather has turned in favor of the crews working to restore power, Chasse said, but frigid temperatures are expected to prevent the ice on tree limbs and power lines from melting in the near future.
“Our crews have been working around the clock with assistance from outside resources, and we’re making slow progress due to the extreme damage to the electrical system,” Chasse said. “In all we have about 325 workers out in the field and in the office. It’s an all-hands-on-deck event for us.”
Bangor Hydro and the Penobscot County Emergency Management Agency are urging people without any alternate, safe heat source to consider going to an emergency shelter. To find a shelter, call 211.
Michelle Tanguay of the Penobscot County Emergency Management Agency said anyone who doesn’t have transportation to get to one of these shelters should call their local law enforcement agency for assistance.
“At this point, we’re asking people to make a plan and not to wait it out until power comes back,” because it could still be out for several days, Tanguay said.
Chasse urged people to stay away from downed lines and to not attempt to trim or cut back trees themselves. He also asked for patience from customers, and said attempts to get through to Bangor Hydro may not be successful at first because phone lines often are full.
Bangor Hydro is working to restore power to the largest number of customers as soon as possible by focusing on getting electricity running in the most heavily populated areas first, Chasse said.