December 18, 2017
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Power restoration slows as crews reach ‘end of the road’

By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff
Updated:
Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Damaged power lines on Ohio Street in Bangor on Tuesday.

PORTLAND, Maine — Four days after an “unprecedented’ wind and rain storm knocked out power for more than 400,000 customers across the state, Central Maine Power reported that as of 5 p.m. Friday, the number had been reduced to 53,000.

About 11,500 customers of Emera Maine, which services most of the northern and central parts of the state, remained without power Friday afternoon, according to the company’s website.

Lineworkers have arrived in Maine throughout the week to assist in the recovery, and on Thursday another 400 joined them, with another 100 expected Friday, CMP president and CEO Sarah Burns said during a Friday morning conference call.

“We’ve made extraordinary progress,” Burns said. “We’ve restored about 83 percent.”

But in many areas, crews have reached “the end of the road” and the pace of restoration has slowed.

“We’re getting to the most rural part of our system and we are finding enormous damage,” she said. “The challenge for us is, we’ll clean it up and on the other side, we’ll get two customers on, because that’s how Maine is built.”

Crews will work around the clock to restore the majority of remaining outages by late Saturday, the company has said. But homes on remote camp roads and in areas where flooding or downed trees still block access may not be back online until next week.

Friday afternoon, the majority of outages remained in Kennebec and Cumberland counties, with nearly 13,000 customers still without power in each. Some 8,500 customers were still down in Lincoln County, with about 4,000 in each of Sagadahoc, Somerset, Waldo and York counties.

On Thursday, 50 crews were deployed across Greater Bangor to restore the remaining outages, Emera Maine spokeswoman Judy Long said. The company expected that 90 percent of southern Penobscot County, including Bangor, would be restored by 10 p.m. Friday.

Burns said customers who are frustrated that power is restored on only one side of their road need to understand that the two sides may operate on different circuits.

“Message No. 1, if you think you’re forgotten, call us,” Burns said. “But message No. 2, we don’t believe you’re forgotten.”

Ninety percent of CMP’s customers still without power can find on the company’s website their estimated time of restoration, “and if you don’t have one, it’s Saturday night at 10 o’clock.”

The Maine Emergency Management Agency on Friday encouraged Mainers to document damages from the storm and to report them by calling 211.

The information will be used to allow towns and cities to determine where storm-related damages occurred. Residents should also document the damage, the cost of damaged or spoiled items, and keep receipts for repairs in order to file insurance claims.

Those who cannot afford to fix damage can contact their community’s general assistance office.

Recipients of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) may be able to obtain vouchers to replace lost food by calling 855-797-4357. Farmers who experienced losses and need assistance can call the USDA Farm Service Agency at 207-990-9140. Businesses can report losses to their local economic development agency.

Showers were predicted for Friday, although temperatures were unseasonably mild.

A number of midcoast communities including Wiscasset, Brunswick and Topsham, were scheduled to hold trick or treating after postponing the traditional Halloween festivities due to concerns about downed lines and lack of light.

Staff reporter Alex Acquisto contributed to this report.

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