CMP still restoring electricity in Brunswick service area
BRUNSWICK — The wet heavy snow that clung to trees and power lines like white glue sure was pretty.
The clean-up, however, wasn’t.
For the second time this winter, thousands of residents were left in the dark following a major snowstorm that dumped up to 2 feet of snow in sections of the Mid-Coast. The storm felled trees and power lines, causing widespread power outages that were still being repaired on Wednesday and Thursday.
Two homes were claimed in the storm’s aftermath, including a Harpswell residence that firefighters say was set ablaze by a candle.
Monday night’s fire at 2 Squirrel Haven Lane was called in by a 15-year-old girl staying at the residence. The girl was unhurt, but the home was completely destroyed.
A fire also destroyed a home in Phippsburg on Monday.
Much of the coastal community was without electricity until Wednesday. CMP expected to restore power to all customers by sometime Thursday.
On Monday, the company reported 40,000 customers in the Brunswick service area were without power. By Wednesday, that the number had been reduced to 13,444.
Brunswick Fire Chief Clark Labbe said Wednesday that about 1,300 Brunswick homes were still without power, down from 3,700 on Tuesday.
Nearly 6,000 homes were in the dark Monday, including several in downtown areas. Bowdoin College reported repeated outages Monday morning, but was fully restored by the afternoon. Durham Road was closed all day Monday and much of Tuesday while crews cleaned up several tree limbs that had fallen on power lines.
While the varying snowfall totals were arbitrary, it left the hardest hit communities feeling targeted. Portland and adjacent towns received between eight and 10 inches. Brunswick and Freeport were hammered with nearly 2 feet. Although several sections of the city lost power, Bath’s total snowfall was far less.
“It definitely seemed like we’ve had the bulls-eye on us,” said Labbe, referring to December’s ice storm that also left much of the region without power.
Although the sun replaced the snowfall on Tuesday, Misty Green, director of the Sagadahoc County Emergency Management Agency, reported that 379 roads across the county were still without power, up from 348 the day before.
Of that number, Bath had risen from 49 to 51, and Topsham dropped from 97 to 79.
As of Wednesday morning, Green said, only eight roads were without power in Bath, 23 in Topsham and 208 across the county.
Most of the outages began around 1 a.m. Monday morning, Green said. She said she thought the storm hit harder than the ice storm of last December.
In terms of emergency shelter use, Green said, “it just seems like the needs are much bigger this time around.”
The Mid-Coast chapter of the American Red Cross opened a shelter at its Topsham headquarters.
Hillary Roberts, director of emergency services, said the shelter opened at about 2 p.m. on Monday. Thirteen people from Bath, Brunswick and Topsham spent Monday night there, including four families and one individual.
“It’s actually fairly typical when we open a shelter to not have a huge amount of people spend the night,” Roberts said. “We have had more people coming in during the day, really just to get some public information, talk to their neighbors, talk to us, find out if we have any current information on when the power might come back on, get a snack, get a meal.”
Roberts added that people have been handling the situation well. “I think Mainers kind of have that hunker-down mentality, ‘we’ll stay home and put an extra blanket on the bed and really see this through,'” she said.
No one used the shelter Tuesday, although Roberts said it would remain open as long as the need existed.
In Bath, the Salvation Army opened a shelter on Tuesday at 25 Congress Ave., according to Capt. Jean Henderson.
“At this time there’s no one here,” she said that afternoon. The next day Henderson said no one had spent Tuesday night there, either.
The Salvation Army served as an informal shelter Monday night, hosting about 10 people including a family of five, Henderson said.
“We had people calling us from all over the place that had no way to cook food, that had no heat, had no water, couldn’t shower or use a bathroom, so we just told them to come,” she said. “We would satisfy their needs.”
Henderson said many of the shelter users had “kind of reached their limit.”
CMP on Thursday morning said fewer than 3,000 customers remained without power. Electricity was expected to be restored by the end of the day.
Don Holt, Brunswick Service Center operations manager for Central Maine Power Co., shows Gov. John Baldacci a display of utility information Tuesday at the CMP operations center. CMP said it expected to restore power to all customers by the end of the day on Thursday. (R. Steven Sharp photo)