Christmas in the Dark? Post-Storm Power Outages Linger for Thousands in Maine

December 24, 2013

Tens of thousands of utility customers in Maine may face Christmas without electricity as post-ice storm power outages continue in the region.

In Maine, the Central Maine Power, a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA which delivers electricity to more than 600,000 homes and businesses in the state, said Tuesday morning some 85,000 customers remain without power. The company said ice as much as an inch thick has coated tree branches, power lines, and roads after the past weekend’s ice storm, causing power interruptions and making travel difficult.

“The damage from this storm is so severe, and working conditions so difficult, that service restoration in some areas could last through Christmas and into the day after,” a spokesperson for the Central Maine Power said.

A photo of a downed utility pole in Kennebec County, Maine, on Dec. 24. Some 1,800 personnel from Central Maine Power's storm recovery workforce are working to repair outages in the state. Photo: Central Maine Power

The continued power outages are also being reported in other parts of the Northeast.

In Vermont, Vermont Electric Co-op reported this morning fewer than 5,000 customers remain without power. The company said it’s optimistic that it can restore power to about 4,000 customers today, and about 1,000 customers will likely remain without power on Christmas Day with the possibility of some outages lasting longer.

In New York, National Grid said more than 6,000 customers in the Northern New York region are still without power as of Tuesday morning. Crews are working to restore the power by midnight, the company said.

State Farm, the largest U.S. home and auto insurer, said Tuesday it does not have any Northeast claim numbers to report from the ice storm at this time. The insurer offered the following safety tips for consumers in regions facing power outages.

For Home:
• If possible, use flashlights instead of candles for emergency lighting. Candles used in unfamiliar settings can be dangerous fire hazards.

• Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment, or electronics that were on when the power went out.

• When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes”* that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer, or furnace.

• Leave one light on so it’s easier to know when the power returns.

• Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer. This will help keep the food as fresh as possible. Be sure to check food for signs of spoilage.

• Use generators safely. When using a portable generator, only run it outdoors with adequate ventilation. Never use a generator indoors or in attached garages. The exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide, which can be deadly if inhaled. Listen to the radio for updates.

For Auto:
• Slow down. Bridges and overpasses freeze first, so take it slow and avoid sudden changes in speed or direction.

• Keep windows clear. Visibility is crucial, especially in bad weather.

• Turn the wipers on and crank up the defroster, if necessary. And make sure that all items are removed from the back window area. If the driver still has trouble seeing, the driver should safely pull over to the side of the road.

• Brake cautiously. Abrupt braking can cause lock-up and loss of steering control. If the car has anti-lock brakes, apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal.

• Resist the urge to “floor it.” If stuck in snow, straighten the wheels and accelerate slowly. Avoid spinning the tires. Use sand or blocks under the drive wheels.

Topics Windstorm Maine

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