PARIS – Perhaps we were too eager to get rid of the snow.

Monday’s rains, compounded by melting snow, caused several problems in the area from flooding and power failure.

Trouble began at 10:18 a.m. when a tree branch fell on wires near Paris District Court, resulting in a blown transformer. The courts were closed for the Patriots Day holiday, but the jail and Regional Communications Center, which relays the county’s emergency calls, were forced to operate on generator power.

“The power was out, so there wasn’t any danger,” said Chief Brad Frost of the Paris Fire Department, which responded to the incident.

The RCC was still running on auxiliary power Monday evening. Gail Rice, spokesperson for Central Maine Power, said 123,000 customer accounts were without service Monday afternoon, including a peak of 2,200 in the Bridgton service area that includes much of southern Oxford County.

Rice said the problems were mostly due to trees and branches falling onto the lines. She said crews hoped to have service in the area restored by midnight.

“The Bridgton area was not hit nearly as badly as some other areas,” she said.

At 2 p.m., the American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Paris Fire Department’s station on Western Avenue. The station had previously been serving as a warming shelter. According to Laurie Levine, director of the United Valley chapter of the Red Cross, the shelter provides sleeping cots and food.

“People usually come equipped to stay,” Levine said, “but if they don’t, we certainly provide them the means to do so.”

The United Valley chapter serves Oxford, Androscoggin, Franklin, and Kennebec counties.

Scott Parker, director of the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency, said the shelter would have volunteers from the Paris Fire Department, the County Emergency Response Team, and the County Animal Response Team.

“We’ll make the determination in the morning if we need to keep it open,” Parker said.

Frost said the shelter can accommodate 15-20 people. The Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School will also open as a shelter if the need arises.

Yvette Lizotte, shelter manager with the Red Cross, said two people and a dog had come to the shelter by 4:45.

“Generally people start rolling in around dinnertime,” Parker said.

Also around 2 p.m., the Norway police and fire departments responded to a call of a vehicle trapped in floodwaters on Route 117. An hour later Route 117 was declared impassable.

The vehicle, a late-model Subaru Outback Legacy, was removed by Paul Hodsdon of Paul’s Auto and Towing in Norway. According to Hodsdon, the car had been at an angle, so that water entered through the passenger door up to the bottom of the passenger side seat.

Hodsdon said the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle was Nan Brett. She was not injured.

Police and highway department vehicles were patrolling the area during the day. Parker said several secondary roads experienced washouts and that police were redirecting traffic and blockading roads. He did not believe that prevented most people from getting home.

The Shelburne Dam in Shelburne, N.H., which lies on the Androscoggin River west of Gilead, went to Condition One around 4:30 p.m. According to dispatcher Keith Tilsley at the RCC, that means the river was flowing at 5,000 cubic feet per second or higher, increasing the risk of flooding downstream.

“That’s a pretty common occurrence,” Tilsley said.

Dispatcher Steve Cordwell of the RCC said the center had received around 100 calls by 4 p.m., and that the volume was twice that of an average day. He guessed that 85 percent of the calls were related to flooding or electrical problems.

Frost said the Paris Fire Department responded to five calls in the morning, none of which were major. These included the power line damage near the county buildings and foundation damage to a home on Elm Hill.

Scott Gregory, a training officer at the Fryeburg Fire Department, said the town had not closed any roads due to flooding from the Saco River as of Monday afternoon.


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