Officials are keeping an eye on waterways in central Maine for potential flooding after Tuesday’s ice storm as Central Maine Power Co. crews work around the clock to restore power to thousands of customers.

Mike Smith, emergency management director for Somerset County, said the warmup predicted for Tuesday afternoon did not occur so there had been no reports of flooding as of Wednesday morning.

“We’re just kind of keeping an eye on it,” Smith said from his office in Skowhegan.

Temperatures are predicted to rise over the coming weekend, however, and Smith and others will be watching waterways including the Kennebec, Sandy and Carrabassett rivers, for possible flooding.

Smith noted there is a significant ice jam in the Carrabassett River off Katie Crotch Road in Embden that officials are keeping an eye on. An ice jam on the Kennebec River near the picnic area off Route 2 in Skowhegan also is being watched.

“As long as the water can keep flowing underneath it, we’re in pretty good shape,” said Smith, who also is director of the Somerset County communications center.

Meanwhile, the heavy snow and rain that fell Tuesday on trees and branches in central Maine took wires down, knocking out power to several thousand customers, according to Gail Rice, spokeswoman for Central Maine Power Co. Crews have been working around the clock to restore power.

“They’ve been out there working,” Rice said Wednesday morning. “We’ve brought in about 60 additional crews — contracted crews we sent to Franklin County and some hard-hit areas in Oxford and Androscoggin counties.”

She said that as crews restore power in places such as Waldo and Knox counties, they move to some of the harder-hit areas in Kennebec and Somerset counties.

“We do shift crews around as we clean up in one area.” Rice said.

Power had been restored to many customers by late Wednesday morning, according to Rice.

“We expect to get power back to the vast majority of people this evening,” she said.

In Kennebec County, 4,500 customers reported outages at least once between 6 a.m. Tuesday and mid morning Wednesday, according to Rice. By mid-morning Wednesday, 1,080 were still without power in Kennebec County.

Rice said that in Somerset County, the total number of customers reporting at least once was 3,700 and by mid-morning Wednesday there were fewer than 1,800 customers without power, she said.

In Franklin County over the course of the storm, 4,460 customers reported outages and by mid-morning Wednesday, 680 were still without power.

In Waldo County, which was not hit hard by outages, 525 customers were affected and all power was restored as of Wednesday morning, according to Rice. Just fewer than 14,000 customers in CMP’s central and southern Maine service area lost power during the storm, she said.

David LaFountain, chief of both the Waterville and Winslow fire departments, was home with the flu Wednesday but said that the removal in 2008 of the Fort Halifax Dam on the Sebasticook River in Winslow has resulted in fewer flooding problems because of the retention area associated with it.

“The dam has got to fill up before we get the flooding,” said LaFountain, who also is the local emergency management director.

Before the dam was removed, Lithgow Street in Winslow would flood but now only about a 30-foot stretch of the street floods when flooding occurs, with only a few inches of water, according to LaFountain.

He said probably the biggest risk of flooding would be if an ice jam occurred in a place south of Waterville such as Sidney and water started backing up.

Before the dam was removed, flooding in the southern part of the Hathaway Creative Center parking lot on Water Street in Waterville would occur when there were flooding issues, but that problem has abated, according to LaFountain.

“The river comes up for sure, but it doesn’t get into the parking lot like it used to,” he said.

LaFountain said fire, police and other officials watch for potential flooding in Waterville and Winslow and public works crews would be notified if flooding occurs.

He said he thinks the kind of flooding the area would see is in basements and cellars, which would require pumping them out, and from roads washing out. Public works crews also would probably have to clean out culverts, according to LaFountain.

Meanwhile, Fairfield had seen no flooding as of Wednesday, according to Fairfield fire Captain Mike Murphy.

“So far, so good,” he said.

Murphy said that typically when there is flooding, it occurs on Water Street in that town, but it takes a lot for the area to flood.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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