Nearly 13,000 Mainers were still without power Saturday morning after the first big storm of the winter hit the state with more than 2 feet of snow in some areas, accompanied by strong winds.

Utility crews made steady progress Friday and Friday night, but it may take several days to restore power in some areas because of widespread damage and difficult travel conditions, Central Maine Power spokesperson Gail Rice said. Hundreds of crews from the United States and Canada are helping the company fix damage from the storm.

“Our main focus today has been on public safety to make sure all downed lines were de-energized and made safe,” Rice said. “We’ve also been working on making sure that critical facilities like hospitals, public safety and shelters were up.”

As of 1:15 p.m. Saturday, CMP reported that 12,227 customers were without power, down from more than 100,000 Friday. The hardest-hit areas were Cumberland County, where 5,700 CMP customers remained without power Saturday morning, and Kennebec County, where about 6,000 homes and business remained without power.

Emera Maine, which serves parts of central and northern Maine, was reporting about 585 outages, including about 370 customers on the Cranberry Isles south of Mount Desert Island.

In preparation for the storm, CMP deployed 259 line crews, including 166 additional crews from Maine, Quebec, New Brunswick, Connecticut and New York, throughout the state Thursday night. Despite higher snow accumulations than predicted in southern and coastal areas of the state, Rice said CMP was adequately prepared for the clean-up.


“We were as ready as we could have been,” Rice said. “I think the forecast did pan out how we were expecting, but it did a lot of damage and the damage was widespread.”

Rice expected out-of-state crews to continue helping with assessment and restoration for as long as they were needed. Some workers would keep working overnight, Rice said, and all of the crews were expected be back on the road early Saturday.

The number of Central Maine Power customers without power dropped steadily Friday. Cumberland and Kennebec counties accounted for more than half of the outages, CMP said. Emera Maine’s outages were concentrated in Penobscot and Hancock counties.

The hardest hit areas for power outages in Cumberland County include Cumberland, Falmouth and Windham. In Cumberland, at one point nearly all of CMP’s 3,335 customers were still without power, but that number was trimmed to 1,041 by 11 p.m. All but 424 of Falmouth’s 5,683 customers and nearly 1,000 people in Windham still awaited restoration Friday night, but the numbers in both towns were down significantly from midday.

A warming center, where residents also could charge cellphones, was set up in Cumberland Town Hall on Tuttle Road. Another was set up in Alna in Lincoln County in the firehouse on Alna Road. The Maine Emergency Management Center said those using the Alna warming center may be able to cook there.

In York County, 378 customers were still without power shortly before 11 p.m., but CMP sent out a tweet Friday afternoon saying they expected to complete restoration of power in York County by later Friday night.


Rice said it’s too soon to estimate restoration times for most areas without power, although the power utility updates its website with estimated times as they become available. Many of the outages listed on the website say CMP is assessing the situation because power company workers need to figure out what repairs need to be made to restore power.

Emera Maine sent out a tweet Friday afternoon saying about two-thirds of its 24,000 customers who lost power overnight had electricity restored. Most of the rest would get their power back by 10 p.m. Friday night, the utility said, and the rest by 3 p.m. Saturday.

“We know we’re not going to get everybody back up today,” CMP’s Rice said Friday. “We hope we can make a lot more progress today, but at this point it’s hard to say exactly how many people will be without power into tomorrow and beyond.”

As part of its attempts to speed power restoration efforts, CMP has deployed drones for line reviews for the first time.

A drone patrol spotted a downed tree in Skowhegan Friday morning and sent GPS coordinates back to its crew, potentially saving the company several hours of searching, Rice said.

Christopher Wasileski, 33, of Falmouth, said he lost power around 3 a.m. Friday morning and woke to falling temperatures in his house, With a young baby at home, he quickly got a fire started and stoked it until late morning when he had to leave for work. His power was restored around 3 p.m.


“I have a natural gas furnace so literally when the electric is out the boiler is out,” Wasileski said. “I just kept everything going. Kept flushing the toilets. Kept my fireplace going and that kept the temperature up at 70.”

Amber Grant, 49, of Topsham had just glanced at her alarm clock at 3:21 a.m. when it suddenly flickered off. She wouldn’t have power again for another 12 hours, but took advantage of the down time to play board and card games with her high school- and college-age children.

“It was a great time to kind of be unplugged,” Grant said. “I had a gas stove so I was able to make a nice big breakfast.”

Before the storm, Grant said she prepared the same way her mother ingrained in her as a child: filling up the tub and all available containers with water and stocking up on candles and flashlights. She and her husband do not have a generator.

“I grew up in a small town where we always lost power, so you just hunker down and hope that you get power back soon and put the generator on your list for next year,” Grant said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.

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