Central Maine Power Co. and public works crews spent Monday clearing roads and assessing damage from a powerful storm that snapped trees and utility poles and brought down power lines across the state, forcing closures of schools and roads.

The highest wind gusts were reported at 12:40 a.m. in Portland at 63 mph. Chris Kimble, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said wind gusts hit about 45 mph throughout the early morning.

The winds knocked out electricity to thousands of CMP customers. Gail Rice, a CMP spokeswoman, said more than 61,445 customers had lost power by Monday morning.

As of 4 p.m., the number had dropped to about 31,500, including 14,280 in Cumberland County, 4,227 in Sagadahoc County, 3,674 in Androscoggin County and 3,982 in Lincoln County. More than 40 utility poles snapped during the storm.

More than 450 utility line workers fanned out across Maine to restore power. The workers included crews from New York state, who arrived after Gov. John Baldacci issued an emergency declaration to allow out-of-state utility workers to help restore electricity.

Dispatchers at the Cumberland County Regional Communications Center took hundreds of calls during the storm, with reports of downed power lines, trees blocking roads, and small fires.

Fires broke out when wires came down, but no structures were burned, said Bill Holmes, the agency’s communications director.

Road closures were reported in dozens of communities in southern Maine.

In Windham, Walter Partridge Road was closed after two pine trees fell and took down power lines. The town’s public works crew started work early Monday morning, picking up large tree limbs and debris that had fallen in the road.

In Falmouth, trees fell on Falmouth, Waites Landing and Hillside roads.

A tree hit the roof of a home on Route 26 in New Gloucester, and another hit a home at the intersection of routes 202 and 115 in Gray.

In Freeport, four roads were closed: Pine Street at the intersection of Stage Coach Road, Baker Road at the intersection of Cedar Lane, Burnett Road at the intersection of Wolf’s Neck Road, and Hideaway Lane.

Jim Budway, director of the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency, described damage as widespread but minor. He said Monday afternoon that the agency was working closely with CMP to restore power to homes across the county.

“Good progress is being made,” Budway said.

Officials in York County anticipated extensive power outages and road closures with downed trees and flooded streets, but the damage didn’t materialize.

There were some power outages but no reports of flooded streets or significant damage to homes, said Bob Bohlmann, director of York County’s Emergency Management Agency.

“We thought we would have a high tide issue around noon, but the radio was quiet,” he said. “We were ready for it, but it was certainly not like anything we have seen in past storms.”


Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]