By Greg Latimer
Motorists traveling River Road in Newcastle Monday morning were greeted by this sight, more reminiscent of mid-February or so, than the first Monday in November. (Joe Wilkey photo)
Central Maine Power continued to make progress restoring electricity to Lincoln County households, but that progress was little consolation for thousands of residents who remained without power as another cold night settled in on Tuesday, press time for The Lincoln County News.
Widespread power outages struck the county during an early season snow storm that brought heavy, wet snow and high winds to the area Nov. 2.
During the height of the storm 18,556 of CMP’s 26,682 Lincoln County households were without power, according to CMP. Power had been restored to all but 3,058 of those homes as of Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 7:58 a.m.
The majority of the outages at that time were in Waldoboro, with 981 outages, followed by Bristol with 664.
“Our crews have restored service to nearly 35,000 customers (statewide) since Monday morning, and we completed our damage assessment of major roadside lines and transmission corridors yesterday despite some challenging conditions,” said CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice Nov. 4. “Our goal today is to complete restoration to those major lines, finish assessing damage on the rest of the system, and finish replacing more than 100 broken poles.”
Tuesday morning, CMP had 250 two-man line crews in the field. The utility has received assistance from other utilities and contractors from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Canada.
In addition to the line crews, the storm response team includes 110 tree crews, supervisory and safety personnel, mechanics, and other support and administrative personnel.
CMP has established three mobile command and supply centers in the state, including one in Wiscasset, to aid in storm recovery. The company is reassigning its crews into areas with the worst damage as they complete the restoration in other parts of the state.
Local emergency responders were busy during the storm as well, dealing with many accidents, road closures, downed trees and tree limbs, and other issues.
Waldoboro Fire Chief Paul Smeltzer lauded his firefighters for their efforts during the storm, who repeatedly had to head right back out into the weather soon after returning home from calls, he said.
“The fire department was just fantastic all weekend long in the storm. They put in some very long hours,” Smeltzer said.
Utility officials were also sensitive to the timing of the storm response with Tuesday’s elections, and had been in communication with the Maine Secretary of State and municipal officials.
In a statement issued Monday, Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn noted municipal officials were working to make sure that polling locations were up and functional.
Widespread outages of Time Warner Cable service also plagued Lincoln County residents as of press time on Wednesday.
Natalie Beurgos, a Public Relations Manager for Time Warner Cable in New York City, advised approximately 10,000 customers in Maine were without service as of Tuesday night as result of the storm. “We’re working closely with CMP in our efforts to restore cable service,” Beurgos said. “Restoration of cable service should be somewhat collateral with the restoration of power.” Working with CMP allows Time Warner to work in the areas most recently cleared of debris, where infrastructure is in the process of being restored, according to Beurgos.
A website not affiliated with Time Warner Cable, downdetector.com, had a display map of Time Warner outages that indicated a significant number of outages in the Midcoast area and a much larger number of outages in the Down East area.
A commenter on the site – one of thousands – who identified himself as Mark Braveman of Maine may have reflected the frustration of many Lincoln County residents with the following comment: “I have a business that depends on phone and Internet to process payments. I have had no service for 2 days and every time I call I am told it will be restored in 2 hours. Please help.”
A commentor who identified herself as Catherine Norton of Damariscotta wrote: “Total problems with no TV access, no Internet access and no real help or information when I call the phone numbers given.”
Not all of the comments attributable to Lincoln County residents were appropriate for publication.