BRUNSWICK, Maine — A powerful thunderstorm that began in Bridgton and reached its peak over Brunswick at about noon on Thursday left more than 25,000 Central Maine Power customers without power.
Public works crews, fire and police personnel were continuing to scramble late Thursday afternoon to ensure everyone was safe.
“We got hit very hard, very fast,” Brunswick Fire Chief Ken Brillant said late Thursday afternoon.
Meteorologist Derek Schroeder of the National Weather Service in Gray said the storm started in Bridgton at about 11:20 a.m. and by noon had hit Brunswick at greater than 60 knots, the highest measurement the weather service keeps. The storm continued on to Bath and Boothbay Harbor, and also affected Pemaquid Point and Georgetown, he said.
With “strong, straight-line winds” instead of circular winds, the storm was not a “microburst,” Schroeder said, but was equally powerful.
Downed trees and wires affected at least 30 roads, and blocked nearly a dozen in Brunswick. Trees fell on houses on Theodore Drive, Palmer Street and Thompson Street, Brunswick police Cmdr. Mark Waltz said.
Power was out throughout the downtown area and at Bowdoin College, and traffic lights at Cook’s Corner and all along Pleasant Street were not working, Waltz said.
Curtis Memorial Library in downtown Brunswick closed for the day after a tree fell near the building. On Greenwood Road, a live wire fell on a man’s car and burned his roof rack, Waltz said, but the man was not injured.
Bowdoin College Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols tweeted, “Power is out on the north side of campus. Trees are down near Druckenmiller, Dudley Coe, and Sills Hall. Sills Drive is blocked with tree on power lines. No injuries reported.”
Firefighters rescued people trapped in an elevator at Fort Andross when the power went out, and Bowdoin security rescued people in a college elevator, Brillant said.
The Brunswick School Department notified parents at 2:30 p.m. that students would be dropped off as close as possible to their regular stops, and if daycare or after-care programs had closed because of the storm, buses would return the students to schools until their parents picked them up.
In Freeport, live wires and downed trees closed Flying Point Road between Osprey Cove and Firefly Drive. Route 123 in Harpswell and roads off the Cundy’s Harbor Road were also closed, severely limiting access to some parts of the coastal community.
At 2:28 p.m., Central Maine Power reported that 25,705 customers were without power. Of that total, 12,717 customers in Cumberland County were without power, with 8,125 of them in Brunswick and 1,803 in Harpswell.
More than 1,000 customers in Durham in Androscoggin County were without electricity, as were 1,816 in Phippsburg and 699 in Topsham, both in Sagadahoc County.
By 4:45 p.m., the number of Cumberland County customers without power was down to 10,882, with 6,812 out in Lincoln County and 4,127 out in Sagadahoc County, according to CMP.
Gail Rice, spokeswoman for Central Maine Power, said at 4 p.m. that CMP was working to get more employees into the field to assess damage and estimate when power would be restored.
“We’re working with county emergency management agencies to prioritize road clearings, and shifting our own crews around,” she said. “We have help from some of our affiliates in Connecticut and from our mutual aid partners.”
Brillant praised CMP for bringing in extra crews “just to get the roads opened up to make things safe, with additional crews to get the power restored.”
Of the more than 8,000 Brunswick customers still without power late Thursday afternoon, Brillant said, “Optimistically we would like to have the power up overnight, but that’s probably not going to happen.”
“There was a lot of personal damage,” Brillant said. “We’re lucky no one got hurt.”
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