December 27, 2013

OUR OPINION: Thumbs up, thumbs down

Quick takes on the issues making news this week in central Maine (Storm Edition).

The impact of the weekend ice storm continued to be felt Thursday, with more than 11,000 Central Maine Power customers still without power in hard-hit Kennebec County. A small snowstorm threatened to hamper restoration efforts.

In all, 23,000 CMP customers remained without power Thursday morning, down from a high of 123,000 that lost power at some point as a result of the two-day storm. In addition, a stiffening cold front moved through around Christmas, forcing residents to deal with wind chills below zero. It has been a rough stretch for the area in and around the capital city: According to the National Weather Service in Gray, the high temperature in Augusta has been at or below 32 degrees 17 out of the last 18 days. The forecast shows no sign of warming, so the ice will be here through the New Year.

THUMBS DOWN to a Christmas without electricity.

The loss of power poses a threat to safety — a Knox man was killed and a Whitefield couple hospitalized in separate incidences of carbon monoxide poisoning related to generator use.

Loss of electricity is also a source of general misery. Families throughout the region that should have been celebrating were instead struggling to stay warm and fed. It is a Christmas that many here will not soon forget, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

“This is a rough time of the year for people to be going through this,” Lynette Miller, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency, told the newspaper.

THUMBS UP to the residents who worked at emergency shelters throughout central Maine this week, and to others who helped make the time a little less rough.

The shelters reported a low turnout — around 20 people stayed at a shelter set up at the Augusta Civic Center — but it is important that people, however few, have a place to turn when the weather causes perilous conditions.

There are also plenty of examples of Mainers who made the best of a bad situation, with more stories likely to emerge in the coming days. Here, we heard about a family who used sleds to get Christmas presents to their Belgrade home after a tree blocked the road. In Hallowell, two weekends in a row with poor weather made it difficult for three local churches to fill out requests for Christmas presents for kids who might not otherwise receive any. So organizers turned to social media to find volunteers who, along with a donation from Target, helped fill the void.

THUMBS UP to the local and out-of-state power line crews that worked long hours in the cold weather through Christmas to restore power in the storm’s aftermath. According to CMP, 1,800 crew members gave up their Christmas Day to help get the lights back on.

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