WATERVILLE — A passenger van with several riders was stuck under live power lines for about an hour Friday after a strong storm swept through the region, toppling trees and dropping several inches of rain in a matter of minutes.

About 4:15 p.m., the skies went dark, the wind picked up and heavy rain fell. Police radio traffic spiked with reports of lightning strikes, golf-sized hail and wind damage.

On Abbott Street, the Kennebec Explorer van was trapped after a nearby maple tree was struck by lightning and collapsed across the road, pulling down utility lines. Inside, about five passengers were unharmed but going nowhere while rescuers and police blocked the road and waited for Central Maine Power workers to set the van free.

Todd Dostie, of 20 Abbott St., was home when the lightning struck his tree.

“All I could see was a white flash and I heard the crack,” Dostie said after the rain subsided.

Outside, neighbors were surveying scorch marks on the old-growth tree and other areas of damage from several downed trees along the street.


Throughout Maine, more than 5,000 customers in eight counties were without power after several localized storms roared through the state. In Kennebec County, more than 1,600 customers were without power. In Waterville, the total was nealry 1,000.

In many parts of central Maine, storm sewers overflowed. In Fairfield, under the train trestle on upper Main Street, a car floated in several feet of standing water. In Elm Plaza in Waterville, people used buckets to bail water out of their parked cars. At the corner of Elm Street and Western Avenue, children swam in a flooded crosswalk.

Chris Kimble, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Portland, estimated that 2 to 3 inches of rain fell in about an hour, and wind between 60 and 70 mph blew through the area.

On Drummond Avenue, Mark Robinson was taking a nap in his camper when his roof was caved in by a massive maple tree that was snapped in half by the high wind.

“Suddenly, rain poured in like it was Noah’s flood,” he said.

Robinson was trapped inside his camper until his brother — Mike Robinson, who was also napping in a nearby camper — rushed out to pull him through an emergency window.


For several hours into the evening, fire departments, public works departments and utility companies worked to open roads and restore service throughout the region.

In all, nine streets experienced minor flooding and seven were affected by downed trees. In less than two hours, Waterville Fire Department responded to 10 calls for service, Capt. Michael Michaud said. There were no accidents during the storm and no injuries reported.

Kelly McQuarrie, a dispatcher for Somerset County, said she placed about 20 calls for service, mostly for Fairfield.

Waterville Police Sgt. Daniel Ames said it wasn’t the worst storm he’s seen in town. “But it was a pretty good one. We got a lot of water in a very short amount of time,” he said.

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