October 30, 2012

As night falls, 22,000 Mainers still without power

Maine missed the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, but people still faced significant outages and travel delays Tuesday.

By Staff Writers David Hench, Gillian Graham, Tom Bell and Jessica Hall

PORTLAND — Superstorm Sandy subsided Tuesday with Maine escaping the storm's most damaging path, but as night fell, many residents remained in the dark.

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Mountain Road in Falmouth was blocked to traffic starting at about 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning when a tree fell onto the road, bringing down a power line in the process. David and Laurie Janes say they heard the crash while in bed in their Falmouth home.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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The tailend of a SUV is perched on top of a postal mailbox in the aftermath of floods from Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island, N.Y. Maine didn't suffer nearly as bad of damage as other parts of country like New York and New Jersey, which were overrun with water and suffered billions in damage. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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Historic power outages

  • Ice storm January 1998  275,000 peak outage count (A estimated 340,000 customers lost power -- not everyone lost power at the same time and some lost it twice); 2,600 broken poles
  • Ice storm December 2008  220,600 peak outage count; 170 broken poles
  • Hurricane Gloria 1985  217,300 customers lost power; 350 broken poles
  • Hurricane Bob 1991  182,500 customers lost power; 279 broken poles
  • Winter storm February 2010  133,261 peak outage count; 350+ broken poles
  • Winter storm February 2009 130,316 peak outage count
  • Patriots Day storm April 2007 127,545 peak outage count
  • 'Snotober' October 2011 143,000 peak, 207,000 total outages
  • Hurricane Sandy  October 2012 88,250. peak outages; 146,300 total outages

Source: Central Maine Power

As of 8:25 p.m., Central Maine Power Co. reported that about 31,000 customers were still without power.But by 9:40 p.m., that number had been reduced to 21,871.

More than 159,000 customers lost power at some point during the storm.

"It is our hope that everyone should have their power back by no later than Thursday, and possibly sooner," CMP spokesman John Carroll said Tuesday evening.

Carroll said CMP expected to have power restored to most communities north of Augusta by Tuesday night, with the exception of some remote towns in northern Franklin County.

Carroll said Cumberland and York counties remained the hardest hit by outages. He attributed that to stronger winds off the ocean and more leaves on trees.

He said repair crews will in all likelihood head south to places such as New York and New Jersey to help with the restoration efforts once their work in Maine is completed.

While it might seem like it is taking a long time for some customers to get their power turned back on, Carroll said the restoration effort is on target.

"We're recovering from what might be a once-in-a-century event. We think we had a good (restoration) plan in place," he said.

As the weather cleared midday Tuesday, some activities returned to normal.

The Coast Guard reopened the ports of Portland and Portsmouth at 10 a.m. to all traffic after closing them before the height of the storm Monday.

The worst storm-related mishap in Maine occurred when a working barge in Bar Harbor sunk at its mooring during the storm, said Coast Guard Lt. Nick Barrow in South Portland. The Coast Guard is working with the harbormaster there to have the barge raised, he said.

Two members of the Coast Guard in South Portland also will be sent to New York City to help with storm recovery efforts there over the next four to five days, he said.

Flights from Portland International Jetport were canceled on Tuesday morning, though there were no problems specifically in Portland.

"The jetport itself, we're in fine shape," said Bob Rothbart, who works in the airport's communications center. "The runways, everything is open, but like everything else on the East Coast, the airlines took their airplanes and sent them to safe places."

Regularly scheduled flights were expected to resume at about 11:25 a.m., but major delays were expected well into the afternoon. Travelers were urged to contact their airline for flight-specific information.

Candy and Don Gagnon of Gardiner were on their way to Fort Myers, Fla., for a vacation and arrived 2½ hours early because they feared the jetport would be mobbed with people.

"We thought it might be crazy," Don Gagnon said. "It looks like a ghost town."

With no lines, and few airline staff in sight, there was little urgency. "Now we're going to go read," he said.

The Amtrak Downeaster canceled Tuesday's runs between Boston and Portland because of power outages in New Hampshire, said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. Without power, crossing lights and barriers don't work, so trains have to go slow and conductors have to manually flag them through the road crossings, she said.

"We didn't want to have people get on and four hours from now we'll get you to Boston," Quinn said. "At this point in time we just don't think we can be reliable at all," she said.

Amtrak announced Tuesay night, however, the Downeaster would resume service on Wednesday.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Bill Gribbin, 72, of Littlejohn Island, Yarmouth, cuts up a large tree limb that had fallen into his yard during the storm.

Photo by Tom Bell / Staff Writer

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Crews from McDonough Electric Construction of Bedford, Mass., on Tuesday morning remove a cherry tree that had fallen over Princes Point Road near Gilman Road in Yarmouth. The tree was tangled in electrical lines.

Photo by Todd Hall of McDonough Electric Construction

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This utility pole was snapped off when a tree fell across Methodist Road during superstorm Sandy. Photo taken on Tuesday, October 30. 2012.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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