MORE COVERAGE: Day 2 of ice storm hits Maine

LEWISTON — Hundreds of power outages Monday morning turned into tens of thousands by afternoon and by late night, about 100,000 Maine customers lacked electricity.

Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro workers were busy around the state.

On Monday morning, Central Maine Power reported only 500 power outages, but as the freezing rain continued to thicken ice on limbs and lines, the number of households without electricity spiked, giving many people flashbacks of 1998.

By noon, there were 26,875 homes without power, including nearly 5,000 in Androscoggin County. In Auburn, more than 1,206 households had no power; in Lewiston 2,477.

CMP spokesman John Carroll said there were 54,000 customers without power Monday afternoon, a number that rose to 80,539 shortly after 10 p.m.


“Over the weekend, we were well prepared,” Carroll said. But Monday morning, the storm not only didn’t stop, it picked up in intensity. So did the number of homes without power.

“The weather forecast showed there was a band, an area, getting a fairly steady rain and the right (freezing) temperatures, from Lewiston to Augusta and Jefferson to Rockland. That area was clearly identified as most at risk, with ice build-up and outages. And that’s the way it shook out,” Carroll said.

CMP’s strategy on Monday, “the impact phase,” was to make sure the public was safe, to de-energize downed wires, clear them from roads “and make it safe for the public,” Carroll said.

He said he doesn’t know when the impact phase will end. It could be late Monday night or Tuesday. “We need the storm to stop. It’s still going,” Carroll said.

Once the storm stops, CMP will know long it will take for power to be restored, he said. “A significant number of people will be without power overnight.”

By 9 p.m. Monday evening, Carroll confirmed the steadily rising number of outages throughout the day, “We’re up to about 75,000 outages,” he said.


That number, combined with Bangor Hydro’s outages, puts more than 100,000 Mainers without power.

Carroll said tree crews will be out Monday night cutting limbs, assessing the situation and laying the ground work for the restoration crews at first light Tuesday.

Minimal restoration will take place overnight, he said. Although this situation is particularly difficult around Christmas, his primary objective is making things safe.

Sarah Danse of Lewiston was one of the unlucky ones without power Monday.

Danse, who was babysitting, had six youngsters in her care. At 10 a.m., they were baking Christmas cookies when the power went out.

“We had some in the oven,” she said. Only a dozen were cooked, the remaining three dozen still dough.


Lunch on Monday was cold sandwiches, she said, but the home, at least, was warm.

“I have electric heat, so we’re hooking up the generator right now,” Danse said. She had enough natural light late in the morning, but doesn’t know how long the power will be out. The children were playing handheld video games and on Kindles. “They’re charged up for now. I’m sure in 20 minutes I’ll have six unhappy children.”

CMP could not give her a time when the power would be back, Danse said.

Still, it was not as bad as the ice storm of 1998, Danse said, adding she was young when that storm hit.

In West Gardiner, the power went out at Brian Hodges’ home at 11:30 a.m.

He was ready.


“We have a gas-powered generator that we tested on Friday,” he said. The generator doesn’t power the entire house, but it provides heat. His home has well water, so he filled the bathtub so the household can flush the toilet. He has a wood stove if needed.

“We have extra batteries, bottled water. We got all of our laundry done,” Hodges said. “It’s all part of living in Maine.”

He was, however, without WiFi.

Hodges was taking the ice storm in good spirits, and said it has finally allowed him to use the generator he bought two years ago.

But Monday was beginning to remind him of 1998.

“I was 28. I was in my first little house on the water.” So far, Monday’s storm wasn’t as bad, he said, “but I’m beginning to have flashbacks. All morning long, I’ve been hearing trees and branches fall,” Hodges said.


He has not heard branches fall on power lines or that “pop” sound from utility poles this time.

“I credit CMP for all the trimming they’ve done,” he said. “That’s probably a factor in us not losing power sooner.”

Some Sun Journal Facebook bloggers reported losing power, their homes growing colder, while others said they were thankful they still had electricity.

“We lost power over an hour ago here in Auburn,” Tina Merritt wrote. “We are keeping busy with board games, which is really fun!” Suddenly, her power came back on. “Must have been from my positive energy,” she mused.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: