BRUNSWICK, Maine — “It’s all hands on deck,” Maine Gov. Paul LePage said Wednesday of the state’s response to Monday’s “highly, highly unusual” storm that left nearly half a million people without power.
“We’re moving forward. We’re going to try to get this done as quickly as possible,” said LePage, who asked Mainers living without electricity to be patient as crews work around the clock to clear trees and repair lines
Meanwhile, lineworkers who arrived from other states added an important bit of context to Maine’s travails.
Art Forran and Donald Tucker, both foremen for Bowling Energy in Kentucky, arrived in Brunswick mid-morning Wednesday from Cincinnati, ready to help out “until it’s over,” Tucker said. “We’ve done major hurricanes like Katrina … there’s devastation to house and home, but what’s really bad is when people die.”
Maine has not recorded any fatalities directly related to the storm.
LePage and Central Maine Power President and CEO Sara Burns met with media at the CMP station in Brunswick on Wednesday morning before heading to the Winnegance area of Phippsburg to watch linemen bring wires back online.
“Brunswick got hit,” LePage said.
“Brunswick got hit pretty hard,” Burns agreed.
CMP and Emera were still reporting more than 200,000 customers without power early Wednesday. At 2 p.m., nearly 4,000 of Brunswick’s 11,000 customers were still offline.
“Our goal is to be done Saturday night, but we aspire to do better,” Burns said. Even so, some roads in northern Maine and others leading to seasonal campgrounds may not have service by then, she said.
LePage said he was not considering calling in the National Guard because electrical line workers are “far better trained” for the work to be done.
Area sandwich shops, including Amatos in Brunswick and Panera, 99 and Ruby Tuesday in Topsham, packed 1,000 lunches for lineworkers to pick up at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, CMP spokesman John Carroll said.
Burns said CMP was still not ready to estimate the cost of the damage.
‘Complete communication blackout’
One peninsula up the coast from Brunswick, Ron Proctor sliced his chainsaw through another birch tree and added the pieces to a stack along his dirt driveway off Birch Point Road in West Bath.
The road, which runs along the southern tip of the West Bath peninsula, is rumored locally to have been the epicenter of Monday’s storm, as the dozens of felled trees, some resting on wires and tied away from the road with cables, are consistent with CMP numbers: 1,250 of 1,309 customers in West Bath still without power at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
“We didn’t hear anything inside our house,” Proctor said of Monday’s storm. But when he ventured outside later Monday morning, he discovered a number of trees and wires down in the driveway.
Bath paramedic Mike Drake, who shares a driveway with Proctor’s parents, had cut his way through the debris enough to get to work, Proctor said.
“He did yeoman’s work,” Proctor said.
Since Monday, Proctor, who lives in Tuscon, Arizona, but plans to build a house near his parents’ on Birch Point Road, has felled trees, stacked wood and continued to make the drive passable.
“We’ve had a complete communication blackout,” he said. “My cellphone doesn’t work, the landline is out, and we have no TV.”
While the family does have a generator, “we probably only have four days of propane left, and the wires are too low for the propane truck to get through,” he said of Birch Point Road.
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