A howling storm that produced gusts of up to 91 mph and dumped more than 8 inches of rain in parts of southern Maine knocked out power to about 140,000 homes and businesses Thursday night and into Friday. Residents were warned that it could take days to undo the damage to power lines knocked out by heavy precipitation and strong winds, which toppled trees and utility poles across the state. The Maine Emergency Management Agency said that as of 4 p.m., about 100,000 homes and businesses were without electricity, down from a peak of about 140,000. Maine Gov. John Baldacci declared a state of emergency Friday to let power restoration crews work longer hours. Crews from Canada, Massachusetts and Michigan were summoned to Maine to assist. Central Maine Power Co. warned it could be several days before power is totally restored. Damage was heaviest in York and Cumberland counties. In Knox County, 8,166 customers were without power Friday afternoon, according to CMP officials. About 2,200 of those accounts were in St. George, where the whole town was without power. video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player Knox County Regional Airport clocked winds at 54 mph and Aqua Maine in Rockport reported 4.28 inches of rainfall Friday morning. “It really was concentrated from Knox [County] down,” said CMP spokesman John Carroll. “It got progressively more intense in terms of outages.” The storm created unusual problems because ground frost melted and allowed trees to sway and tip over. Frost keeps trees tight in the ground and prevents tipping, but branches can break instead, which causes less severe damage, Carroll said. Carroll said Friday there was no timeline in Knox County for restoring the power, and people closer to main roads would get power back first. Camden-area schools were in session Friday, but SAD 40 schools in the Waldoboro area were closed because of road washouts. RSU 13 schools in the Rockland area were closed due to power outages. In Rockland’s downtown, trees were uprooted in Limerock Street and a roof blew off a Main Street building and into the road. Main Street was closed in the morning and reopened early Friday afternoon.
Rockland’s sinkhole on Old County Road apparently widened a bit at the top, according to public works officials. The winds blew down the chain link fence around the hole and was replaced by public works crews. The crews also dealt with wires down on Burrows and Limerock streets, flooding on Route 1 and traffic lights that went out. Jeremy Smalley of Tenants Harbor didn’t complain about the uprooted tree in his front yard. He took his chain saw to it Friday afternoon. He wanted to cut up the tree before the power came back on and electrified it. “I’ve been cutting pulp wood, so it works to my advantage,” he said as his kids did cartwheels and bounced on moon boots in his driveway. “I can’t get ahold of CMP, so I have to do it.” According to St. George harbormaster Dave Schmanska, there was minimal boat damage. Schmanska said small skiffs got swept off wharves and sank, but other than that, “we got very lucky — no major vessel damage.” Several roads were closed in St. George because of downed power lines, according to Fire Department Lt. Chris Leavitt. Kinney Woods Road washed out and was closed for 24 hours due to water running over the road, but reopened Friday afternoon. Camden’s Maine Public Broadcasting Network antenna at the top of Ragged Mountain broke during the storm and interrupted the station’s fundraising efforts Friday morning. Gil Maxwell, the chief technology officer at MPBN, said it will cost between $20,000 and $25,000 to fix and will be done in about two weeks. “It’s part of the price of doing business on the top of mountaintops in Maine,” Maxwell said. A boat went aground in Owls Head at about 10 p.m. Thursday, according to Coast Guard officials. “God was with that boat. It laid right on the beach there,” said Coast Guard officer Curtis Barthel. The storm caused scattered power outages and temporary road closures in Waldo County, said Dale Rowley, director of the county's Emergency Management Agency. Roads closed due to downed power lines, blown-over trees or partial erosion included Route 137 and the Files Hill Road in Thorndike. All had reopened by the early afternoon Friday. “Most towns are calling and saying they had no real damage,” Rowley said, adding that last April's heavy rainstorms wreaked much more havoc in Waldo County. By afternoon, fewer than 200 CMP customer accounts in Waldo County were without power, said Carroll. Those still in the dark were mostly at the county's southern edges, including 26 homes or businesses on Islesboro, 45 in Lincolnville, 52 in Montville and 60 in Palermo. “The lower tier of towns in Waldo County — they got it,” he said of the storm.
In Hancock County thousands of residents found themselves without power by the time the sun came up Friday. Many of them also could not get far from their homes because of trees blocking surrounding roadways. As of 10:30 a.m. Friday, Bangor Hydro was reporting that more than 12,000 customers were without power, with the vast majority of those outages in Hancock County. By late Friday morning, several communities in Washington and Penobscot counties still had areas without power, according to information posted on the company’s Web site. By approximately 5 p.m. Friday, Bangor Hydro had reduced the number of customers without power to about 6,300. Because of the amount of damage in Hancock County, some customers there might not get their power back until Saturday or Sunday, the company indicated in a prepared statement. Ralph Pinkham, Hancock County’s emergency management director, said most of the county’s storm damage occurred on the Blue Hill Peninsula.