Nearly two-thirds of Maine was without power Monday night in the aftermath of a quick but ferocious storm that caused widespread damage throughout the state.

Roughly 484,000 customers were without electricity at the height of the outages around midday Monday. That number exceeds the peak number of outages during the historic Ice Storm of 1998. A spokeswoman for Central Maine Power Co., the utility that covers most of southern Maine, said it could not even predict how many days it might take to restore power to everyone.

“This is the largest number of outages in the company’s history,” CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice said in a news release. CMP was established in 1899. “It is significantly larger than the 1998 ice storm that people remember so well.”

Early Tuesday morning, over 410,000 Maine power customers were still in the dark.

CMP reported just before 1 a.m. that 352,870 of its customers were without electricity, including 93,926 in Cumberland County. Emera Maine reported 59,856 outages as of 1 a.m.

The storm, which produced a wall of heavy rain and near hurricane-force winds in much of New England, moved into Maine late Sunday and left a trail of destruction in its wake before departing at mid-morning Monday.


Uprooted trees fell on homes and cars, roads were blocked by downed power lines, boats broke free of their moorings, motorists formed long lines at gas stations and coffee shops that still had power, and traffic lights throughout Maine were not working.

Gov. Paul LePage issued a state of emergency Monday to help utility companies restore electricity as quickly as possible by permitting crews to work longer hours than normally allowed by law.

Rice said crews spent most of Monday de-energizing downed power lines to ensure the public’s safety. Power restoration work will intensify Tuesday, but the company will not commit to a timetable for restoring power, Rice said.

“It could take longer than a week in some places,” she said, noting that 186 broken power poles had been reported as of Monday afternoon.

Judy Long, spokeswoman for Emera Maine, issued a statement late Monday that said crews will work through the night to restore power. Even so, “it will take days to restore service to all,” she said.

The Home Depot in South Portland saw a rush on generators before noon Monday and sold out, a customer associate said. Matt Harrigan, a Home Depot spokesperson, said generators are in high demand in Maine and New Hampshire and its merchandising and supply chain teams are replenishing stores as quickly as possible.


The National Weather Service said temperatures in the region will fall to near freezing Tuesday night.

The outages reported by CMP affected about 64 percent of the company’s 612,000 customers. By comparison, during the Ice Storm of 1998, the peak number of outages was estimated at 270,000, with a total of 360,000 customers affected during the course of the storm.

Emera Maine reported nearly 90,000 customers, or about 57 percent of its total, were without power by noon Monday.

The storm knocked out power for nearly 1.5 million homes and businesses across the region.

The weather service meteorologist Nikki Becker said a gust of 69 mph was recorded at the Portland International Jetport. Augusta reported a top wind gust of 70 mph and a gust of 71 mph was recorded in South Bristol. A gust of 130 mph was reported at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire, while winds hit 82 mph in Mashpee on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

The wind was powerful enough to blow a scaffolding truck off the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Kittery and into the Piscataqua River early Monday, said Ted Talbot, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation.


Becker said the low pressure system that blasted the state Monday was fueled in part by the remnants of a tropical storm called Philippe, which formed in the Caribbean and moved north into the Atlantic Ocean.


The handful of businesses that were still open, like the Starbucks in Falmouth, were popular places. People lined up for coffee and took turns at the power outlets. Parents sat cross-legged on the floor next to outlets that powered their work laptops, while pre-teen children ate toasted panini sandwiches and played Minecraft.

“Can I please use the outlet next?” a student in a USM sweatshirt asked a woman who was working on a computer propped open on her lap in a chair with no table.

The woman made a motion as though she was on the phone, and pointed to her headphones. The student walked over to another outlet, held up his textbook and pointed to his laptop. A man using that outlet to charge his phone shook his head and pointed to a kid nearby who said “I’m next, I’ve got a book report due.”

Carlos Sandia eventually gave up his outlet to the frustrated student. He and his girlfriend had rented a house in Falmouth for the week with plans to go leaf peeping and hiking while Sandia put the final touches on a work project, but the storm knocked out power to the house, leaving them little choice but to return to Brooklyn. They were at the Starbucks to recharge their phones and book a return flight.


“I hate to lose a vacation, but what are you going to do?” Sandia said with a shrug. “It was kind of romantic for a day, with the big waves and all, but I can’t do a week without power. I can’t take a whole week off from work now.”

With the threat of an outage that could last for days, lines formed Monday afternoon at the handful of gas stations that still had power and could pump fuel.

In Falmouth Monday afternoon, drivers from as far away as Bridgton, Hollis, Gray and Cumberland lined up eight cars deep at the Irving stations on Bucknam Road to gas up their cars and home generators.

The stations are located next to a fire station and regained power at 7:30 a.m., making them the only stations with gas available for miles, desperate customers told the clerks.

Gas, coffee and ice were the big sellers Monday, assistant manager Kitt Perry said.

“We had a lot of people being told they were going to be out of power for at least three or four days, so they came here to stock up,” Perry said. “Basically, it’s been pretty nuts all day long.”



In addition to the strength of the storm, the wind direction, ongoing drought and time of year likely contributed to the widespread outages.

The storm came from the southeast, instead of the northeast, which is what Maine trees are accustomed to, said Todd Robbins, a licensed arborist who is Cape Elizabeth’s tree warden and assistant property manager of the 2,100-acre Ram Island Farm.

Many trees are weakened after months without significant rain and infestations of winter moths and other pests, he said. The damage made them susceptible to breaking in high winds and driving rain.

“We’re seeing more deciduous trees down than I could ever imagine,” Robbins said Monday. “Trees were pushed in a different direction than they’re used to. We’ve had two-plus years of drought and then got a ton of rain. That put substantial stress on trees, especially older trees.”



In Monmouth, Fire Chief Dan Roy said “it was like a war zone, complete chaos, this morning.”

Starting around 4:30 a.m., Roy said the fire department’s 20 or so firefighters and their four trucks went from call to call, handling roughly 40 calls – mostly for downed trees – in four hours.

In Orono, the University of Maine had to evacuate about 1,500 students from their dormitories to emergency shelters because of safety risks associated with the loss of fire-suppression systems and emergency lighting caused by the outage.

Police in numerous towns were urging parents not to take their children trick-or-treating Tuesday because of the risk of downed lines and darkened streets.

“We would like to remind everyone that this is a suggestion and (neither) we, nor the town, decide when trick-or-treating occurs. It is a parental decision,” North Berwick police wrote in a post on Facebook.

Wind partially rips roof of George E. Jack Elementary School in Standish/Staff Photographer Gregory Rec


In Standish, wind partially tore off the steel roof of George E. Jack Elementary School and there was some water damage in the building. That school will be closed all week and students and staff will report to Bonny Eagle Middle School.

The gymnasium at Gardiner Area High School was heavily damaged by the storm Monday when part of the roof and ventilation system was ripped up by the wind, leaving a gaping hole that left the gym floor covered with 2 inches of water.

Schools in Portland, South Portland, Brunswick, Freeport, Wells and Sanford were among those that closed for the day, as did the University of Southern Maine, University of Maine and Southern Maine Community College.

Some were canceling classes Tuesday, as well.

In Portland, power had not been restored to Lyman Moore Middle School as well as Lyseth, Presumpscot, Peaks and Cliff elementary schools. School will not be in session at those schools Tuesday.

Maine School Administrative District 6, which is based in Buxton, canceled Tuesday classes because of damage caused by the storm.


Several boats were torn from their moorings in Belfast Harbor Monday morning, according to Chris Berry, a search and rescue coordinator for the Coast Guard station in South Portland. Berry said a 50-foot trawler style pleasure boat carrying 200 gallons of diesel fuel was torn from its mooring and “broke up” on rocks in the harbor. Several other boats in Belfast Harbor also were ripped from their moorings by strong winds.

The historic 1794 Shaker Meetinghouse in New Gloucester was hit by one of multiple trees that toppled in Shaker Village.

The weather service predicted that by the time the storm ended Monday, cities and towns throughout Maine could end up with between 1½ and 3½ inches of rain. The Carrabassett, Sandy and Kennebec rivers were expected to flood Monday as the powerful storm swept through the state. The Swift River in Roxbury already had flooded, said Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the weather service in Gray, and she expected the Carrabassett and Sandy rivers to flood later Monday. The Kennebec will most likely flood Tuesday, she said.

The Amtrak Downeaster also canceled several trips Monday because of multiple trees on the tracks.


In Brunswick, damage was widespread, including downed trees and power lines throughout the town.


Streetlights were out and traffic was heavy, even though most businesses downtown were closed. The exceptions were Hannaford, which had auxiliary power from a generator, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Inside Hannaford, shoppers picked up items in partial darkness. No cold items or produce were available, and the bottled water sold out by 11 a.m.

Hannaford spokesman Eric Blom said none of the more than 60 Hannaford locations in Maine was closed. The company has procedures to restock shelves during extreme weather, particularly for high-demand items like bottled water, batteries and bread, Blom said.

“There are inventory and ordering processes to make sure anything that gets low in stock will be reordered quickly,” he said.

Areas of the midcoast also were battered by the winds and rains, leaving some major roads at least temporarily blocked by fallen trees or power lines.

Route 27 in Edgecomb was down to one lane – a muddy shoulder – because a massive pine tree was leaning across the road, supported only by power lines. One of the other primary roads into Boothbay, River Road out of Newcastle, was blocked entirely by two large trees within a few hundred yards of each other.


On nearby Route 1 in Newcastle, cars were stacking up six- and seven-deep in two lanes Monday afternoon to fill up at Mike’s Place, one of the only convenience stores in the Damariscotta area still pumping gas. Inside, the line of customers waiting to pay for gas, snacks, drinks or slices of hot pizza snaked around the small store at times, but no one was complaining.

Ben Welch, who co-owns the store with his son Mike, said the generator had been humming since 5 a.m., although a glitch periodically forced him to turn the machine off and on to keep the juice flowing.

“They’ve been lined up since 6 a.m.,” Welch said of the cars waiting to use one of Mike’s Place’s four gas pumps.

Scarborough Fire Chief Michael Thurlow said dispatchers, first responders and public works crews handled hundreds of calls for trees and wires down throughout town.

“Unfortunately this is going to be an extended effort,” Thurlow said in a Facebook post.

Staff Writers Dennis Hoey, Noel Gallagher, Mary Pols, Kelley Bouchard, Ray Routhier, Kevin Miller, Penny Overton, Peter McGuire and Eric Russell contributed to this report.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

Twitter: grahamgillian

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