Good night, Irene

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 in News

Good night, Irene

by Gina Hamilton

BATH — Although western Maine and southern Maine were slightly harder hit, Maine escaped the worst ravages of Hurricane ... then tropical storm ... Irene, as it smashed every East Coast state along its three-day tour.

According to Central Maine Power, nearly 100,000 customers were still without power as of 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, but Mainers, used to the inconvenience of periodic outages, took it with good grace.

"At least it's pleasant outside," said Margery Elton of Bowdoinham. "Last winter, we were without power and hot water for almost a week."

Gov. Paul LePage issued a state of emergency on Friday, in advance of the storm, but as of Tuesday it was not clear whether the amount of damage would qualify the state for federal disaster-relief funds.

Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Robert McAleer and MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt flew over two bridges that washed out in Carrabassett Valley, stranding more than 100 people who had been visiting Sugarloaf/USA resort. Sugarloaf, a ski resort, offers summer golfing and mountain biking. Traffic has been re-routed through private roads.

“The damage in some of these areas is devastating,” said LePage in a press release.

Flood warnings remained in place throughout Monday for several major waterways, including the Penobscot, Androscoggin and Kennebec rivers, especially in the low-lying downtown Augusta region.

Nearly 200 roads were closed because of flooding or fallen trees, and a dozen bridges were closed, said Mark Latti, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. By Monday afternoon, three bridges — the two in Carrabassett Valley and one along western Maine’s Route 113 — remained closed. All but a handful of the roads were reopened, Latti said.

However, Maine fared better than the rest of its northern New England neighbors. Because of the track of the storm, which was farther west than anticipated, the majority of the heaviest rain fell in Vermont and New Hampshire, although Maine did contend with strong wind gusts and tropical-storm-force gales.

Many trees were down throughout the state, many of which fell on power lines, leading to the power failures. CMP and Bangor Hydro have been joined by crews from the Maritimes and Quebec to help restore power.

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