Utility says power may take days to restore

By Clarke Canfield
Associated Press / August 30, 2011

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BUXTON, Maine - Utility crews were working to restore electricity across Maine a day after Tropical Storm Irene knocked power out to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

As of late yesterday afternoon, Central Maine Power Co. still had 137,000 customers without power, about half the 280,000 who lost power during Sunday’s storm.

The company said it could be several days before power is totally restored.

Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. still had more than 12,000 customers in the dark, of about 29,000 affected.

Governor Paul LePage surveyed damages from the storm by helicopter yesterday as road and utility crews cleared debris and made repairs, and homeowners made do while waiting for the power to return.

While no deaths were reported in the state from the storm, it was not without some close calls. In Carrabassett Valley, a young woman stranded between the two Route 27 bridges that had washed out from the Carrabassett River’s flood waters was pulled to safety by local rescuers.

“The damage in some of these areas is devastating, and once we evaluate the financial loss we will see if Maine is eligible for federal disaster assistance,’’ LePage said.

Hundreds of thousands of Mainers were left in the dark - many of them well into yesterday - as the storm ripped down trees and power lines.

Hundreds of line crews were on the job restoring power to homes and businesses.

In neighborhoods hardest hit, the sound of chain saws and generators could be heard as people cut up trees and branches and kept their refrigerators and lights going.

Bob Plouffe stopped at a home in Buxton and offered to remove a maple tree that had fallen across the driveway in exchange for the wood.

He and his friend, Tim Walsh, cut up the tree and loaded the logs and branches into a trailer to take away. Walsh plans to burn the haul in his woodstove this winter.

“Free firewood. You can’t beat it with the price of heating oil,’’ Walsh said.

William Lanigan was among three homeowners who were trapped when some large pine trees toppled across their dead-end country road, blocking them in.

The same thing happened last November, leaving Lanigan without electricity, water, heat, a phone, or a way to drive out for five days.

This time, he left his car at his mother’s house in Kennebunk and told her to pick him up at the end of the road on Tuesday if she didn’t hear from him. Being penned in without electricity or other basics feels like living on a deserted island, he said.

But, he added, “I lived on Nantucket for 10 years so I guess I’m kind of used to it.’’