Thousands of Central Maine Power Co. customers remained in the dark Sunday night, three days after a rainstorm driven by hurricane-force winds knocked out power to 133,000 customers.

About 12,185 customers were still without power late Sunday.

The storm snapped dozens of utility poles, washed out roads, knocked down trees and even blew roofs off homes and businesses.

CMP officials called it the fifth-worst storm since Hurricane Gloria knocked out power to 217,000 customers in 1985.

The state’s hardest-hit area by far was York County, where trees fell on homes, dozens of roads washed out and high winds blew the roof off the Cliff House Resort and Spa.

The section of roof, which covered four rooms, flew about 300 feet before landing in a swimming pool, said Doug Bracy, York’s police chief and emergency management director.

“The ground was very soft, which caused a lot of trees to fall. At one point we had over 70 roads closed,” Bracy said.

Bob Bohlmann, York County’s emergency management director, said the devastation was so widespread that he has no doubt the county will qualify for federal disaster relief.

Fortunately, Bohlmann said, no one was injured, although a 20-month-old toddler in Kittery narrowly escaped injury.

The girl was sleeping in a crib Thursday night when a 65-foot spruce tree fell on the roof of the house on Dennett Road Extension.

A branch pierced the bedroom ceiling, entering her crib. Bohlmann said splinters were found in the child’s diaper.

Gov. John Baldacci toured York County on Sunday morning with Sara Burns, president of Central Maine Power.

“We saw extensive damage, most of it caused by high winds,” said David Farmer, the governor’s press secretary.

The governor spoke with residents at a shelter at Marshwood High School before touring several towns. Farmer said it was too soon to say whether the state will apply for federal disaster relief.

Burns told the governor the company has set a goal of restoring power to all its customers by tonight.

Gail Rice, spokesperson for CMP, said repair crews from as far away as New Brunswick, Florida, Missouri and Michigan spent the weekend in Maine restoring service to customers.

Rice said progress was steady but slow because the storm knocked down 310 utility poles — 140 more than were destroyed in the December 2008 ice storm. Resetting a pole is time-consuming, she said.

Rice said the weekend storm was the fifth worst in 25 years, rivaling the ice storm of 1998, when 275,000 customers lost power, as well as the ice storm of 2008, which knocked out power to 220,000.

Rice said a second storm, which was expected to move into the region late Sunday, might hamper today’s restoration efforts and could cause more outages.

The National Weather Service in Gray said this latest storm could drop between four and eight inches of snow in the Portland region.

Meteorologist Steve Capriola said the storm will bring wind gusts of up to 35 mph and could mix with rain. Capriola said the storm should end this morning.

In Lincoln County, several warming centers remained open during the day Sunday. In York County, the South Berwick Community Center was expected to provide overnight shelter.

The storm forced several residents to seek shelter where they were able to take a hot shower and get a meal, said Joyce Kelley, York County’s deputy director for emergency management.

Kelley, who lives in Springvale, said it was a storm she won’t forget.

“The wind was howling. It sounded like a locomotive (last Thursday night) coming across my house. I have never heard a sound like that before,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]