December 26, 2013

Thousands still without power; first death tied to storm in central Maine

Generator use linked to suspected carbon monoxide death in Knox, while CMP hopes to have all powered back up by Thursday.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

More than 100,000 people statewide, including 38,000 in Kennebec County, were without power on Christmas Eve and the state reported the first death due an ice storm that has paralyzed the middle of Maine.

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Staff photo by Andy Molloy CONNECTIONS: FairPoint Communications splicer Jason Fredette hooks up a line on a pole in Richmond on Tuesday. Utility crews from across New England descended upon Kennebec County to repair utility lines snapped by frozen limbs.

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Staff photo by Andy Molloy SHELTER: Nunzio Biondello sips coffee Tuesday at the Carrie Ricker School in Litchfield, which opened as a shelter for residents of the down. The 89-year-old had been without either power or heat for a day.

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Ice storm shelters

Ice Storm Shelter Status

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, 28 shelters statewide have announced their openings:

Androscoggin: Lewiston High School:. American Red Cross emergency shelter, Lewiston, 1114 9th Avenue. Opening 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Androscoggin: Oak Hill Middle School: Community shelter, Wales, 40 Ballpark Road. Opening 5 p.m. Tuesday, for pet-friendly, overnight stays. Bring bedding, cots and nonperishable food for your own consumption.

Androscoggin: Wales Town Office/Fire Station: Warming center, Wales, 175 Centre Road. Residents needing a place to warm up may contact the town at 207-212-2879 and someone will meet them there to open the shelter.

Hancock: Bar Habor Fire Station: Warming center, Bar Harbor, 37 Firefly Lane. Open indefinitely.

Hancock: Blue Town Hill Office: Warming center, Blue Hill, 18 Union Street.

Hancock: Brooklin Fire Department: Warming center, Brooklin, 25 Bay Road.

Hancock: Brooksville Fire Department: Warming center, Brooksville, 2199 Coastal Road.

Hancock: Miles Lane School: Warming Shelter, Bucksport, 100 Miles Lane.

Hancock: Ellsworth Midle School: Emergency Shelter, Ellsworth, 20 Forrest Avenue.

Hancock: Hancock Congregational Church: Warming center, Hancock, 1368 Route 1. Opening 11 A.M.; closing TBD

Hancock: Orland Fire Department Warming Center: Warming center, Orland, 91 School House Road. Opening 11 A.M.; Closing TBD

Hancock: Sullivan-Sorrento Recreation Center: Warming center, Sullivan, 1776 Route 1. Opening 11 a.m.; closing TBD

Kennebec: Augusta Civic Center: American Red Cross emergency shelter, Augusta, 76 Community Dr. Opening 5 p.m.; open until power back on. Shelter providing meals, blankets, and cots, while people must provide own pillows, sheets, medications. Pet-friendly, with owners are responsible for pets feeding and walking. Bring cages if available.

Kennebec: Helen Thompson Elementary School: Warming center, West Gardiner, 309 Spears Corner Road. Open today from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Kennebec: Winthrop Ambulance Base: Warming center, Winthrop, 31 Old Western Ave. (Old Winthrop Health Center). Open today from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Kennebec: Faith Christian Church: Warming center, Gardiner, 280 Brunswick Ave. Kitchen, shower and bathrooms are available. Opening today at 3 p.m.

Knox: Hope Fire Station: Warming Center, Hope, 475 Camden Road.

Lincoln: Alna Fire Department: Warming shelter, Alna, Route 218. Mainly warming shelter, but will accept overnights. Bring cot, bedding, medications, personal items, and food for your own consumption. It will remain open throughout the duration of the power outages for Alna.

Lincoln: Dresden Fire Department: Warming center, Dresden, 100 Patterson Road. Will remain open throughout the duration of the power outages for Dresden.

Lincoln: Faith Baptist Church: Warming center, Newcastle, Mills Road. Will remain open as long as there is a need.

Lincoln: Wiscasset Fire Department: Warming Center, Wiscasset, Route 1. Will remain open throughout the duration of the power outages for Wiscasset.

Penobscot: Brewer Municipal Auditorium: Emergency Shelter, Brewer, 203 State Street

Penobscot: Newburgh Community Shelter: 2220 Western Avenue. Emergency shelter, pet shelter (bring food, cages if available). Cots and food available, bring own blankets, personal items, medications. Will stay open as long as needed.

Waldo: Troy Howard Middle School: Emergency Shelter, Pet Shelter, Belfast, 173 Lincolnville Avenue

Waldo: Isleboro Community Center: Warming center, Isleboro, 103 Pendleton Point Road.

Washington: Washington County Community College: Emergency Shelter, Calais, 1 College Drive

Generator safety

The Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) safety factors for running generators.

Place generators outdoors in the fresh air

Make a plan for how to keep your generator dry and protected from ice and snow so you are not tempted to bring it inside a garage or other enclosed structure. Generators also pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially in wet conditions. Dry your hands before touching a generator.

Ensure the generator is at least 15 feet away from home windows or doors

Ensure the generator is not placed in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space (such as basement, cellar bulkhead, attached garage) where carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels.

Use kerosene heaters in a well ventilated room, by either keeping doors to other rooms open or keeping a window partially open (at least 1 inch)

Use only K-1 grade fuel in kerosene heaters. Follow instructions for setting the wick height.

Do not use outdoor cooking devices indoors such as gas or charcoal grills or gas camp stoves.

Do not use indoor gas cooking stoves for heat.

It will be be a blacked-out Christmas for many across the region — utility officials say it will likely be late Thursday before everyone is powered back up.

Temperatures were in the 20s Tuesday and were expected to drop to single digits on Christmas Day.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Sonny Black, a farmer who lives on Hallowell Road in Litchfield, where 98 percent of Central Maine Power customers were out of power on Tuesday, had just gotten his generator going.

Christmas meal plans, however, were still up in the air, with family still set to come to his house on Wednesday.

“I don’t know whether she can cook the chicken on the generator or not,” Black said, nodding to his wife in the house. “That’s the only thing. Everything else will keep on booming, I guess The chores still need to be done.”

At the peak of the day, Kennebec County saw more than 39,000 outages, making up more than half of all CMP customers in the area.

Shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday, CMP reported that 64,000 customers were still without power, and Kennebec County remained the hardest hit, with 27,870 outages remaining.

Thousands were also out in Waldo, Washington, Hancock, Androscoggin, Knox, Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties, and the opening of 19 warming shelters across the area were announced by Tuesday afternoon.

Nearly 20 people had arrived at a Red Cross emergency shelter at the Augusta Civic Center by 6:30 p.m. Many caught a ride from the Augusta warming center or the Bread of Life homeless shelter, which was without power; others arrived on their own.

Shelter manager John Osbun said they had more than 30 cots set up and another room that could be used as backup space if needed. Civic Center staff were providing hot meals, which included chicken parmesan on Tuesday night.

Osbun said he would talk with CMP on a conference call later in the night about when they would be able to restore power in the area.

“We’ll stay open until everybody gets their power back on, as long as it takes,” Osbun said.

Aleticia Knox, 71, said she and her boyfriend lost power at their Sewall Street home at 7 p.m. Monday and had spent Tuesday at the Augusta warming center on Front Street.

“We’ve got to be in a warm place. It’s too cold,” Knox said.

She said their Christmas plans include the annual Christmas dinner at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Eastern Avenue.

Death in Knox

State police reported a case of carbon monoxide poisoning in Waldo County this afternoon, the first death apparently related to the ice storm.

Timothy Woods, 50, of Knox, entered a detached garage on his property to refill a generator with gasoline, according to a statement released by Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

When Woods didn’t return from the garage, other family members grew concerned, and found his body in the garage about 15 minutes later. The family called authorities about 5:30 a.m., McCausland said.

About half of the Knox customers of Central Maine Power were reportedly without power shortly after noon Tuesday.

No county was hit harder than Waldo, where nearly 80 percent of Central Maine Power’s nearly 24,000 customers were without power Tuesday afternoon.

Thousands still without power

In Kennebec County, Readfield, Pittston and Mt. Vernon were totally blacked out, and wide majorities were out in 20 of 29 cities and towns in the county, including Gardiner, Hallowell and China.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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POWER UP: An employee of electrical contractor Coutts Brothers hangs a power line Monday night in Hallowell. Thousands across Maine remain without power because of an ice storm that coated lines and limbs.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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POWER OUTAGE: Sunlight emerges from the clouds on an icy West Road in Belgrade on Tuesday after an ice storm hit the area in recent days. Central Maine Power Company reported that most of its roughly 2,500 customers in Belgrade were without power and that about 38,000 customers were without power in Kennebec County about noon.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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ICED IN: Linda Brown lost siding from the exterior of her home at 115 Eastern Ave., Augusta, but the house never lost power Tuesday despite the sagging utility lines. Brown said she heard some trees snap and then heard something fall on or from the house.

Photo courtesy of Richard Kelly

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Staff photo by Andy Molloy SHELTER: Sonny Black walks past the frozen clothes line at his Litchfield farm after firing up the generator. Black had purchased a generator a few years ago to permit him to remain at the farm and tend to the herd of beef and dairy cows.

  


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