MACHIAS, Maine — Emera Maine crews aided by contractors and utility workers from other states made headway Tuesday in restoring power to customers who have been without electricity since Tropical Storm Arthur traveled through Maine over the weekend.
Five hundred forty-four customers were without power, company spokesman Bob Potts reported about 3 p.m., with the majority of outages in Washington County. The total number of customers without power at that point included 71 in Hancock County and eight in Aroostook County.
In Trescott, residents of Wilcox Road, a horseshoe-shaped street that connects with Route 189 in two places between Whiting and Lubec, entered their fourth day without electricity. However, several residents did not seem perturbed by the loss of power.
“They’re doing the best they can,” Ricky Bradley, 55, said, referring to the utility crews.
“It’s been hard,” Bradley added.
Bradley, a former Bangor Hydro employee, stood outside on his deck and briefly talked about how he and his wife, Julie, had been getting by since they lost power about 5:30 a.m. Saturday. Nearby, a generator hummed in a shed, a yellow power cord running to the house to keep his refrigerator going.
He had no power for his well, though, so they were drinking bottled water and cooking on the barbecue grill on the deck.
“Chicken. Hamburgers,” Bradley said, when asked what the couple had been eating. “Mostly hog dogs. Quick.”
Vaughan Green, a neighbor, has a generator, but he couldn’t get it running so the food in his freezer and refrigerator went bad. He said Tuesday he has been eating sandwiches.
“We get by all right,” Green said. He was busy using a tractor to haul out a spruce tree that blew over in the storm. He was going to pull it out to a place where he could cut it up for firewood.
“Been a little bit of an inconvenience,” Green added.
On Tuesday, Emera Maine updated the number of customers it said had been affected by the remnants of Hurricane Arthur over the holiday weekend, increasing it to 34,893. It reported earlier that 20,000 customers were without power during the height of the storm, which battered the Down East coast Saturday with high winds and soaking rain. The powerful winds toppled trees and branches across roads and utility lines.
Repair crews made a lot of progress Monday night and early Tuesday, Potts said, but still had a lot of work to do.
“It’s not uncommon … for the last few hundred to take a lot of time and effort, and that’s where we are now,” Potts said. “That’s why we’re keeping all the crews and not releasing anyone until everyone’s restored.”
Emera Maine is assisted in its restoration efforts by 60 utility workers from southern Maine, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Earlier in the morning, Emera Maine reported 1,434 customers were still without electricity — 1,389 in Washington County, 41 in Hancock County and four in Aroostook County. Most of the outages were in the coastal portions of Hancock and Washington counties.
Power is expected to be restored to all Emera Maine customers by the end of the day Wednesday, said Potts.
Farther south, the storm knocked out power to 6,000 Central Maine Power customers by 6 p.m. Saturday, spokeswoman Gail Rice reported. That number was reduced to less than 1,000 in “a matter of hours,” she said.
“They were scattered all over the place,” Rice said.
A couple of thousand customers in York County were left powerless, and there were about 2,500 outages in Kennebec County at one point. Power was restored to all CMP customers by early Sunday, she reported.
Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative, which serves more than 12,000 customers in Washington, Penobscot and Aroostook counties, reported fewer than 10 customers were without power as of midday Tuesday. At the height of the weekend storm, however, about 5,000 customers had lost power.
“This storm was unusual in that it caused heavy damage at so many sites across our entire delivery territory,” co-op spokesman Charlie McAlpin said.