A massive restoration effort is underway in the wake of Monday’s devastating wind and rainstorm as many Maine residents braced themselves Wednesday night to enter a fourth day without power.

Temperatures are expected to plummet Thursday, too, as the holidays draw nearer.

Although the storm had mostly cleared by late Monday evening, its effects were still being felt throughout much of the state on Wednesday, particularly in the central inland counties along the Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers, where flooding has emerged as a significant threat. Some communities evacuated low-lying neighborhoods while others dealt with stranded vehicles floating in floodwater.

Gov. Janet Mills urged Mainers to stay safe in the coming days as utilities work to restore power – more than 132,000 were still in the dark as of 7 a.m. Thursday – and as other crews repair roads and bridges threatened by both fallen debris and floodwaters.

Speaking to reporters at Maine Emergency Management Agency headquarters early Wednesday afternoon, Mills said it will still be many days before state officials know just how much damage was done.

“Maine people, we’re no stranger to hard times,” said the governor, whose hometown of Farmington was reeling from flooding. “We’ve been through a lot lately, the last few years. The pandemic, a turbulent economy, a horrific tragedy in Lewiston and now this devastating storm. … I know in Maine that burden is heavy right now, but it is not more than we can carry.”


Jennifer Hayes lives on a dead end street in Lewiston with four other adults. She does a lot of work in the area to help the homeless and said it was strange to be the one in need of help.

“Still no power, on the 54th hour, no heat, no hot water and lost all my groceries,” she said. “Candles are almost gone and batteries are almost dead, and CMP says still assessing. We have a very small generator our neighbor let us borrow, it only runs for an hour before we have to fill it with gas again – don’t know when that’s going to run out and I’m broke till Tuesday.”

The storm has claimed the lives of at least three people, and another person remains missing after the vehicle they were traveling in was swept away in the town of Mexico.

Floodwaters from the confluence of the Androscoggin and Swift rivers inundate downtown Mexico on Tuesday morning, closing off a section of Route 2 into Rumford. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

Authorities have recovered the body of a 61-year-old woman who was trapped in a pickup truck that got swept off the Red Bridge by the rising waters of the Swift River in Mexico on Monday. Three other people who were in the truck got out of the vehicle before it washed away. Two were rescued and treated at Rumford Hospital, but the third, a 20-year-old woman, remains missing and authorities plan to search for her beginning at daybreak Thursday, Mexico Police Chief Roy C. Hodsdon said in an email Wednesday night.

Police also identified a man killed in Fairfield as 77-year-old William Tanner. He died when he was hit by a fallen tree he was attempting to clear from his home on Norridgewock Road, police said. Troy Olson, 40, of Windham, was also killed Monday by falling debris, authorities said.

There were several other close calls from people who had to be rescued from floodwaters, including in Casco and Naples, where the Crooked River flooded.



Historic rainfall coupled with melted snow in the mountain created catastrophic conditions in some areas. The flooding and storm damage put more than 100 state roads out of commission, with more than half of the closures in Oxford, Franklin, Somerset and Kennebec counties. That number had come down to about 65 by late Wednesday afternoon, according to state transportation officials.

Additionally, 23 bridges were closed, not because of damage to the bridges themselves but to the roads leading up to them. Among the bridges that remained closed Wednesday was the busy Frank J. Wood Bridge that connects Brunswick and Topsham.

The governor said state officials prepared for Monday’s storm the same way they prepare for all major storms, but she acknowledged that its severity exceeded what even meteorologists predicted.

It is the second year in a row Maine has dealt with a major storm in the days before Christmas and it is shaping up to be one of the most destructive storms in recent memory, similar to a powerful storm in October 2017 that toppled trees across much of Maine and resulted in hundreds of thousands of outages.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Mills declared a state of civil emergency for all Maine counties except Cumberland and York, a distinction that allows her to access certain resources and apply for federal disaster relief funds.


“Rest assured we will seek any and all federal financial assistance to help Maine people recover from this storm,” Mills said Wednesday.

Mills’ office announced Wednesday night that state offices, which had been closed in all but Cumberland and York counties on Tuesday and Wednesday, will reopen in all Maine counties on Thursday, though those with power outages or flood damage will remain closed.


Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday morning tours areas of Water Street in downtown Augusta that were impacted by flooding in the wake of Monday’s powerful storm that wrought damages and power outages across Maine. On Tuesday, Mills declared a civil emergency. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Flooding also made things challenging for utility crews, many of which had been hampered early on by high winds that made it impossible for them to repair lines.

Mills said Wednesday that she has spoken with the CEOs of Central Maine Power and Versant Power about their restoration efforts.

“Each of them assured me they are drawing down all available resources to restore power in as timely a manner as possible,” she said. “I have offered them the full weight of Maine state government … to help them accomplish that goal.”


Asked whether she thought utility crews were prepared, Mills said she did and praised them for working in such difficult conditions.

By 9 p.m. Wednesday, about 107,000 Central Maine Power customers were still in the dark, although that total was way down from Monday’s peak of about 400,000. Kennebec County has been hardest hit, with more than 35,000 customers still without power, or about 48% of all customers in the county.

Avangrid, CMP’s parent company, said Wednesday it was sending in 60 additional line workers and a mobile command center from New York and Connecticut to help with restoration efforts.

CMP also finally started providing estimates for some customers on its outage website. Some are as far out as Sunday, which is Christmas Eve.

Versant Power, which serves eastern and northern Maine, was working to restore power to just over 37,000 customers as of 9 p.m. Wednesday.



The ongoing outages are frustrating residents throughout the state.

Julie Drake, of Auburn, said she hasn’t had power on Ashe Street since Monday morning, when a tree fell on the electrical lines nearby.

Because she needs an oxygen concentrator at night, she’s listed with CMP as a customer with medical needs. But, she said, it doesn’t “feel like it makes a difference when the power goes out.”

“All you get is a call and a heads up that power may go out,” Drake said, “but it doesn’t affect you getting power any sooner than anyone else.”

Drake said she’s worried because a relatively small number of people in her neighborhood are without power so it may be a long wait. She said the situation reminds her of the 1998 ice storm when part of Wood Street in Lewiston didn’t have power for two weeks because the transformer went out. Her pipes froze and she had to relocate with her pets.

“It almost seems like that feeling again,” Drake said.


The Residence Inn in Auburn was sold out before noon on Wednesday for the second night in a row. Operations Manager Nadine Bellevue confirmed that most of the guests were local or from the immediate region, looking for a warm place to stay with electricity and food. Normally, Christmas week is a relatively slow time for hotels that are not in a tourist-driven area.

Kathy Kauffman, a retired teacher from Sabattus who moved to Buckfield last year with her daughter and three grandchildren, said her power went out Monday morning and wasn’t back on as of Wednesday morning.

Without a generator or backup heat source, Kauffman said she knew a cold, dark house was no place for the kids. The family extended its stay at the Residence Inn through Friday, but will have to move on ahead of Christmas, regardless of the power situation. Fortunately, they have family in Augusta where they can stay.

Kauffman said during the 1998 ice storm they had no power for 10 days. But back then, she said they had a woodstove at her former home in Sabattus, which enabled her family to stay warm and fed.

“This is not an adventure,” she said, referring to the current situation. “This is not fun at all.”

The business impact is expected to be great as well. The only road to one of the state’s major ski areas, Sunday River, washed out Monday leaving some guests stranded.


Elisha Irland, owner of The Oak Table & Bar in Augusta, is hoping power will be restored at his establishment in downtown Augusta and jolt his business back to life. Meanwhile, he’s continuing to count his losses.

“It’s the end of the year and it’s the holiday season – this is where we try and do as much business as we can, because January through April we expect to bleed money,” Irland said.

The east side of Augusta’s Water Street remained without power after the Kennebec River submerged Front Street and the Waterfront Park. Electricity was briefly restored Tuesday only to be cut later to address a propane leak in one of the buildings.

Staff Writers Grace Benninghoff and Dennis Hoey, Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Aryan Rai, Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Jake Freudberg and Sun Journal Staff Writers Steve Collins and Mark LaFlamme contributed to this report.

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