Hundreds of utility crews working in Maine on power outages
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — More than 100,000 homes and businesses remained without electricity for a fifth day Thursday after a powerful storm blew down thousands of trees, toppled power lines and left more than half of Maine’s residents in the dark.
But there was a silver lining: There have been no deaths or serious injuries despite power outages that exceeded the infamous ice storm of 1998.
Authorities cautioned that now is not the time for complacency as street lights remain out, hundreds of utility crews remain on duty, and portable generators and chain saws remain in constant use.
“This crisis is not over yet, but it is encouraging to all of us in public safety that there have been no major injuries or deaths attributed to this storm,” said Steve McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Hundreds of out-of-state utility crews were in Maine to help the hardest-hit state recover from a strong storm that left about 1.5 million homes and businesses without power across the Northeast.
In Maine, nearly 500,000 utility customers were in the dark at one point, accounting for a third of the outages.
Utility companies reported that the number of outages in Maine was down to about 129,000 Wednesday evening.
The Maine Emergency Management Agency was collecting data Thursday in anticipation of making a request for a disaster declaration to free up federal aid for the state.
All told, 2,800 workers were restoring power in the territories of the two major utilities, Central Maine Power and Emera Maine.
Even though there had been no deaths, there were several near misses: A CMP worker suffered a glancing blow from a falling tree limb while working in a bucket truck; a couple suffered carbon-monoxide symptoms from a generator; and generators caused several small fires.
Six people in Maine died as a result of the 1998 ice storm, which cut power for more than two weeks for some.
Emergency officials implored weary residents still in the dark to be careful and avoid mistakes that could lead to injury.
Some schools and public services remained closed on Thursday. The storm also disrupted train service from Brunswick, Maine, to Boston.
Other states were also still feeling the effects of the storm. In Rhode Island, Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered a review of that state’s main utility in response to the storm as thousands remained without power there.
Associated Press writer Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.