Three days after wind and rain rattled the state, more than 100,000 households were still without power Wednesday, just in time for cold weather to hit. 

More than half of Central Maine Power customers’ service had been restored, but plenty of people remained in the dark looking for ways to stay warm and fed.

According to CMP, an estimated 154,000 customers remained in the dark at 10 p.m. Wednesday, down from a peak of about 404,000 at midday Monday.

Rain, wind and temperatures below 50 degrees are forecast through Saturday, when CMP has estimated most of its service should be restored. 

The company estimated that it has 1,800 workers, including help from six other states, clearing trees, repairing lines and performing mechanical repairs. According to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland, the storm broke 568 utility poles across the state. 

“Our crews are working as quickly and safely as possible,” CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice said in a news release. “This storm has been unprecedented; no single storm has caused a higher number of outages.”

“We had another day of great progress restoring power and keeping our workers and the public safe,” CMP President and CEO Sara Burns added in a news release. “No storm in our history has left us with this many outages, not even the ice storm of 1998. The good news is while it took three weeks to restore service following the ice storm, recovery from this one will be much, much quicker.”

In New Gloucester, Julie Demers was among those who didn’t have power as of Wednesday night.

She said she and her husband didn’t have a generator, and were using solar-powered and rechargeable batteries for lights and radio.

“We have a gas stove, so we have been heating water up in a kettle and washing right in the kitchen,” she said. “We have gone to get takeout and been cooking meals on the gas stove. We also have a wood stove, so that has been our saving grace to keep the chill out of the old house.”

Demers said she misses the simple things that get taken for granted: television, running water and “the fresh feeling of taking a hot shower every morning.”

She said she hasn’t been able to take a real shower since they lost power sometime early Monday morning.

“Also, one of my dogs is afraid of the dark, so his anxiety level has been on screech,” she said.

Demers said she’s been able to get to work every day, and her employer has been very understanding of everyone without power.

She has been able to store some frozen meat in a freezer there, and has been bringing the rechargeable batteries to work to charge them in her office.

“I have come home a half-hour early each day to catch the daylight to do household chores before it gets dark,” she said.

Her husband, who travels to Bath each day, has had to take several detours because of road closures, downed trees and power lines.

She said the CMP website shows the status of restoration of their power in an “assessing” status.

“I understand that they are working hard to get to everyone and that they will get here as soon as they can,” she said. “There are people who are worse off than us, so we will make do until then.”

Mark Hunt of Litchfield, another resident still waiting for power to be restored, lives in the same house he lived in during the ice storm of 1998, so he was more prepared, he said.

He said they have a kerosene lantern that doesn’t provide much heat, but they “huddle up at night.”

For heat, they use a lot of blankets and sleep in sweatshirts.

“I just remember and am thankful that it’s not the middle of winter yet,” he said.

The ice storm of 1998 occurred in January.

Hunt said he’s been going to his daughter’s house in Winthrop to get water.

“Not having running water and not being able to shower, you have to improvise,” he said. “You eat sandwiches, eat what you can cook on top of the stove.”

He said they keep calling CMP but haven’t been able to get an estimate for when their power will be back.

The entirety of Bailey’s Island didn’t get power back until Wednesday afternoon and Rita Dube concluded that it was “too long.”

“It was really stormy out here,” Dube said. “We were really feeling it by the water.”

She said it got very cold, and with no heat and no hot water, it was chilly inside.

Before the storm, Dube said, she had a big red maple in her front yard full of leaves, and Monday it was bare. She said the wind blew around a lot of things, including an empty 300-gallon water tank.

She said they also didn’t have water because they use a well with an electric pump.

“Luckily, we have a gas stove,” she said, “so we didn’t go hungry.”

Dube said she has a generator, but it wasn’t working the first few days, and once it did it was only enough power to keep the refrigerator and freezer running.

“It was kind of like living in the past. You don’t realize how much electricity you use until you lose it,” Dube said.

Warming center in Auburn

The Auburn Recreation Department has opened a special warming center at Hasty Community Center, 48 Pettingill Park Road, because of the outages. 

A post on its website said the center is for people to drop in, warm up, take a shower and charge electronic devices and cellphones between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. 

The post added that the center has newly renovated bathrooms with new showers, but people should bring their own shampoo and towels. 

Transportation to the Community Warming Center is available if needed; call 207-333-6601, extension 2101 to make arrangements. 

There is no cost for residents to use the center, but pets are not allowed, 

The Auburn Public Library reminded patrons that its building is open during regular hours. People can charge devices and use the computers. 

Out-of-state utility crews wait at the York weigh station off the Maine Turnpike in Maine on Wednesday for their assignments to restore power to tens of thousands of Mainers. Crews from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina and Canada are helping in the effort, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said in a news release Wednesday. (Maine Department of Public Safety photo)


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. 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: