Thousands of homes were still without power on Christmas Eve following a powerful storm that blew through Maine bringing heavy wind, rain, and flooding Friday and freezing temperatures Saturday.

As of 9:30 p.m. Saturday, 83,486 CMP customers, which largely serves southern and central Maine, and 27,001 customers of Versant Power, which serves the northern and eastern portions of the state, remained without electricity as temperatures dipped into the mid-teens.

Utilities have warned that it could be days before some customers have their power turned back on.

“As we have been better able to investigate total system damage, it is clear that we will be unable to restore all customers until early in the next week,” said Central Maine Power company President Joe Purington in a press release Saturday afternoon.

CMP crews that are working to restore power, including by replacing 190 broken utility poles, are being held up in some places by road damage and flooding, said Purington.

Versant power announced Saturday that restoration could take up to five days for those being impacted by outages affecting 500 customers or fewer and that those that remain without power at 10 p.m. Saturday should plan to be without power overnight.


“Today crews are focusing on restoring customers with outages of 1,000 or more people,” said Versant.

There are 24 warming centers open in nine counties across the state, according to the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

A wave breaks over a sea wall at Wells Beach on Saturday near a home that was damaged in Friday’s storm surge. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Wind gusts reached historic levels in some parts of Maine on Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Gray.

The fierce winds, which took trees and power lines down with them as they blew through the state, are partially to blame for the outages. The loss of power combined with sub-freezing weather has left many homes cold on the day before Christmas.

Winds reached speeds of 64 miles per hour in Portland, 59 miles per hour in interior Gray, and winds as high as 70 to 80 miles per hour were recorded on an island weather station near Rockland, said NWS meteorologist Jon Palmer. Palmer said the wind gusts in Gray were the highest he’d ever seen in that area.

The storm dished out varying amounts of rain – one inch in Portland, but as much as four inches in interior Maine, with 4.5 inches of rain in Bridgton, Palmer said.


“We are done with the storm, but we are now dealing with very cold temperatures behind the storm,” Palmer said. In Portland, the temperature plunged from 54 degrees to 13 degrees early Saturday. “That’s a pretty big swing.”

In southern Maine, Cumberland and York counties were heavily hit by outages. As of 6 p.m. Saturday, 17,858 customers were without power in Cumberland County, and 31,287 were without in York County, according to CMP’s outage list.

Friday’s storm caused flooding and damage in coastal communities. The high tide on Friday measured 13.7 feet in Portland and South Portland, the fourth highest on record. Maine’s famous landmark, the Portland Head Light, was damaged by winds, high tide, and ferocious waves.

The front porch area of a house in Wells that was damaged during Friday’s storm surge was photographed on Saturday morning. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Crashing waves hit the innkeeper’s museum, knocking out two windows, ripping off siding, and leaving parts of windows, siding, and landscaping rocks scattered around the yard, as can be seen in the video of the Cape Elizabeth Police Department’s Facebook page. During high tide Friday, waves were reaching and rising over the fence that borders the yard.

The door that leads up to the lighthouse was blown in by crashing waves, which tore off its casing and hinges, Coast Guard Senior Chief Clayton Franklin said Saturday. “That’s a ton of force,” he said. Also, a bell that sits on a slab of granite outside “has been displaced a bit,” Franklin said.

Despite the damage, the lighthouse continued to shine its beam throughout the storm, Franklin said.


Fort Williams Park was closed Friday because of the storm, but opened again on Saturday, said Cape Elizabeth Police Sgt. Eric Fay. The innkeeper’s museum was taped off to keep visitors away from the damaged building, he said.

Among the thousands who lost power in the storm were Anna and Donald Geary, who live on Portland’s Wayside Road.

When their power went out at 11:20 a.m. on Friday, Anna Geary received a text from a neighbor, who said he called 911 to report “‘the tree on fire in front of your house.’  “Holy crap!” Geary said.

She looked outside. “The tree was no longer on fire, but there were live wires and the wind blowing. They were flipping around the ground, actually melted into the tar,” Geary said. And there was a big puddle at the end of her driveway. “The live wires were in the puddle as well, on fire.”

CMP came over, disconnected power to the downed wires, and told her power could not be restored until the tree was cleared. “It was a giant tree,” she said.

At 4 a.m. Saturday, “four or five CMP trucks showed up, God bless their hearts,” she said. In the cold and dark, for two hours, the crews chainsawed the tree. Power came on at about 6:45 a.m., sooner than she expected given the size of the tree, she said from her home, which was warm Saturday. “I’m grateful to CMP,” Geary said.


With so many outages, she said, she worries about rural residents who will likely be in the cold for days.

Up the street, Jeannemarie Halleck, mother of three, was in the middle of getting ready for Christmas, doing laundry, and cooking food when the power went out Friday. She and the children left to visit family in Cape Elizabeth. Returning home, she said, it was eerie to drive in a city full of lights and then arrive at her neighborhood, which was pitch dark.

Waves break over a sea wall near houses in Wells on Saturday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

When her husband, Ben, came home, he started the generator. They had heat and were able to sleep at home, she said.

Ben Halleck was surprised at how quickly the weather changed from a balmy Friday to a frigid Saturday. “I can’t believe the 40-degree temperature drop,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen that.”

The power outage stalled the family’s Christmas preparations, “but we’re moving ahead,” Jeannemarie Halleck said Saturday.

CMP crews will be working on Christmas and the days that follow.


Throughout Maine, around 300,000 CMP and 70,000 Versant customers have experienced outages due to winter storm Elliot.

In some towns, more than half of CMP customers had no power at the height of the outages.

Both CMP and Versant worked overnight and Saturday to restore power.

In addition to repairing lines and removing downed trees, CMP crews responded to more than 1,000 calls from emergency management officials to help clear roads and flooding, according to the utility.

By Saturday CMP crews had restored power to almost 200,000 customers with about 550 CMP and contracted lineworker crews, and 230 tree crews. More lineworkers and tree crews are traveling to Maine Saturday to help restore power, according to CMP spokeswoman Catharine Hartnett.

Flooding caused damage Friday in several coastal communities, including Wells, Old Orchard Beach, and Saco.


Wells Sgt. William Jepson said the total damage to the town is still being assessed but public works did a great job cleaning up sand, rocks, seaweed, and other debris Saturday morning. “It’s definitely looking better than it was yesterday,” he said.

Jepson, who has been with the Wells police department for nine years, said the height of the waves and the scope of the flooding made this storm unusual. “I can’t remember another storm where all the beach access roads were flooded at the same time,” she said. “That made things challenging.”

Ogunquit fire chief and emergency management director Russell Osgood said his town’s public works department also did some substantial work Saturday after the storm that washed away part of a town road and damaged homes near the water. “Everything is pretty well buttoned up now,” he said.

Osgood, who has lived in southern Maine his whole life, said this storm was particularly rough. “From what I’ve seen in the past this was a very substantial home to hit the area,” she said.

Staff writer Lana Cohen contributed to this report.

This story will be updated.

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