April 06, 2020

Tuesday, January 6th

Freezing rain fell on central and eastern Maine; rain on the coast; freezing rain and snow in northern Maine. Five inches of snow had fallen by 2 p.m. at Houlton International Airport.

Many schools closed. Schools from Mars Hill north and in Milo ran on schedule, but Mars Hill canceled Tuesday night activities.

University of Maine in Orono shut down at 2 p.m.

No major traffic accidents.

“Everybody’s falling on the ice. We’ve had lots and lots and lots of broken wrists. It’s been as busy as its ever been,” said Dr. Bob Anthony, chief of the emergency department at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor.

A Bangor Public Works Department official said it had seven trucks on the streets spreading salt and sand pretty steady since Monday. Others sanding included crews from Calais, Baileyville, Guilford, Piscataquis and Washington counties.

No major flight cancellations at Bangor International Airport, but keeping the runways ice-free required an all-out assault.

In Kenduskeag, icy road conditions caused a Dead River Co. oil truck to slide sideways and roll onto its side into a ditch at 9:20 a.m. Only a small amount of oil leaked.

Wednesday, January 7th

Endless ice, freezing drizzle.

Mass closings of schools, businesses, state and town government buildings across central and eastern Maine.

A few accidents reported, none major.

At Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., “Everything is normal right now,” spokesman Bill Cohen said at 4:30 p.m. “If the ice should build up on the lines overnight, the effect couldn’t be predicted. We have an outage plan.”

Central Maine Power Co. said its line crews and vehicles were standing by.

Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross said it was prepared to open shelters for those who lose power.

National Weather Service posted a statewide winter storm watch for Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

No reports of flight cancellations at Bangor International Airport.

WWMJ-FM radio in Ellsworth operating on a backup generator.

Cancellations included church groups, martial arts classes, bingo and beano games, and the Winterport Snowmobile Club.

Price of salt up due to scarcity, one hardware store reported.

In neighboring Quebec, more than 500,000 households without power after ice-laden trees snapped scores of power lines. More than 2,000 Hydro-Quebec employees worked to restore power. Before the crews started working, power was out to more than 700,000 households.

A cat named Lloyd from South Portland hopped aboard a rented truck Dec. 28, ending up in California, its owner reported today.

Thursday, January 8th

Freezing rain.

Hundreds of thousands of households with power outages.

185,000 people in eastern, central and southern Maine lost power earn the day.

Bangor Hydro spokesman Bill Cohen said full crews were out dealing with outages.

Morning: 350 Bangor Hydro customers without power; at 3 p.m.: 6,000.

Gov. Angus King declared a state of emergency, allowing the state to call on the National Guard.

National Weather Service issued a storm warning for most of Maine.

Numerous schools and businesses close.

Bell Atlantic urged customers to avoid unnecessary calls as it is forced to use backup power systems. About 600 customers lose phone service.

Central Maine Power deployed more than 90 crews to restore power. Crews from Massachusetts and Rhode Island arrived to help.

Emergency officials went on full alert to try to keep roads sanded and to remove tree limbs and downed power lines from roadways.

Shelters opened.

Numerous vehicles off the road. No major accidents. “Everything that has a blue light is out there,” said Bangor Police Sgt. Jim Owen.

People scrambled to the stores to buy bottled water, batteries and groceries.

Bangor International Airport continued to operate, although USAir shut down for the day. Numerous flights canceled. Power to one part of the airport out Thursday afternoon, knocking out runway lights.

Bangor Daily News had power outages at its Main Street offices and Hampden printing plant, the longest lasting almost five hours. The company, fearing it would not publish a Friday edition, quickly put together a newspaper. Only 12,000 copies were printed, and home delivery was canceled.

Maine public radio and television knocked off the air. With them went the states Emergency Alert System.

Friday, January 9th

300,000 households without power.

Gov. King told national director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency: “Get out your checkbook.”

King called on the Maine National Guard to help clear away thousands of tree limbs and debris littering roads. The Guard also provided generators.

“People don’t understand that their power is not going to be turned on [Friday], or tomorrow. It may be three, four, maybe even seven days before everyone has power again,” said Steve Watson, director of the Penobscot County Office of the Emergency Management Agency.

King spent Thursday night and Friday morning touring shelters.

State House and national legislators worked around the clock.

Sales of generators brisk, cautionary warnings on usage issued.

Tips given on how to protect food from spoiling.

Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth continued working with an emergency generator.

Red Cross set up emergency blood drives.

At 5 p.m., Bangor Fire Department said that in the previous 30 hours, it fielded 204 fire calls, mostly for downed power lines.

Hundreds take refuge in shelters springing up in schools, town offices and churches.

Saturday, January 10th

A Waterville man and a Newport man died from carbon monoxide poisoning after inhaling the gas produced by generators.

A major transmission line Down East running along Route 1 from Ellsworth to Jonesport damaged, leaving thousands of people in Hancock and Washington counties without power. Bangor Hydros Bill Cohen said a wood-fired electric plant in Jonesboro could help restore power to area customers as soon as Monday afternoon. The transmission line snapped, toppling dozens of towers and draping up to 10 miles of line across blueberry barrens near Deblois. It is the primary line to about 10,000 customers.

A diesel generator in Eastport brought electricity there and to Machias on Sunday.

Gov. King visited Down East, pledging to have the National Guard provide water and other emergency supplies.

After its game was postponed five times, University of Maine men’s basketball team finally played Delaware at Penobscot Job Corps Center, not Alfond Arena, which was without power for more than two days. The game was closed to the public. Delaware won.

University of Maine women’s basketball team beat Delaware at Delaware.

Sunday, January 11th

100,000 households regained power, but 200,000 still without electricity.

Bangor Hydro said 20,000 of the about 50,000 homes that have been without power remained without electricity.

Central Maine Power reported that 275,000 households were cut off the grid Thursday and Friday. By Friday night, 229,000 had no power. On Sunday night, 185,000 were without electricity.

Hospitals reported few injuries from crashing tree limbs and falling ice. People were treated for hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning and slipping on ice.

Waterville police took several elderly residents into protective custody to get them out of their freezing homes and into shelters.

Temperatures fell to the single digits overnight.

More than 10,000 beds were available in 121 active shelters statewide.

U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins asked President Clinton to expedite the states planned application for federal disaster assistance. The governor’s office said it is still putting together the numbers it needs to send to Washington.

Crews from Commonwealth Electric Co. of Cambridge, Mass., and from other states such as Delaware and Maryland continued to help Maine crews get households back on line.

Members of the Army National Guard helped cut trees and clear debris from streets.

Electricity questions dominated police calls.

Sledders, skiers headed to northern Maine to take advantage of snow. About 12 to 18 inches of new snow fell across the region last week. Parts of roofs collapse under the weight of snow.

A family of five from Etna was nearly overcome by carbon monoxide fumes.

Five of six Maine Public Radio stations returned to the air, but not Maine Public Television.

Monday, January 12th

An Oakland man died when he was struck in the head by a tree while helping a friend clear debris near a camp in Vassalboro.

Gov. King sent to President Clinton a request to declare Maine a federal disaster area.

162,000 households without power.

The University of Maine in Orono postponed classes scheduled to start today. Classes will begin Thursday.

Eastern Maine Technical College students will wait until 1 p.m. Wednesday to start classes.

Colby College in Waterville opened.

Schools in Penobscot, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Waldo and Knox counties closed. Gov. King said waivers might be granted to schools, alleviating the need for making up days this summer.

Bangor Hydro nixed a power plan with Indeck, a wood-fired plant in Jonesboro. Hydro spokesman Bill Cohen said the plan was dropped because owners of the plant were asking an outrageous price for power. Indeck officials said they sought a fair price for power.

Fifteen shelters closed. The number of people staying at shelters dropped from 2,910 to 2,182.

Bell Atlantic telephone service out in parts of Washington County.

Motels full, unable to provide shelter to those seeking it.

The city of Bangor estimated it will cost $750,000 to clean up from the storm.

Area farmers struggled to keep generators running, cows milked and the milk cold.

Waterville remained under a state of emergency.

Residents warned of swindlers trying to scam homeowners with false tales of who is responsible for storm cleanup.

Tuesday, January 13th

President Clinton signed paperwork declaring Maine an official disaster area. The federal government will absorb 75 percent of the public costs associated with the storm. Every county except Aroostook, which was thought to have escaped significant damage, eligible for federal aid.

Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. estimated power had been restored to 7,000 of the 10,000 Washington County households. Many residents angered by squabbling between Hydro and Indeck, owners of a wood-fired plant in Jonesboro, which the public believed prevented the region from receiving power sooner.

Vice President Al Gore announced he would visit Maine on Thursday, survey damage in Augusta and Lewiston from a helicopter.

Gov. King estimated costs to local and state agencies at $6.2 million; his spokesman said that figure likely to grow.

With 22 towns reporting, Penobscot County estimated cleanup at $2.1 million for public costs, $1.5 million for individual costs. Kennebec County: $3 million. Waldo and Cumberland counties: $1 million each. Hancock County: $660,000.

Number of households statewide without electricity fell to 121,250 – 112,000 with Central Maine Power Co. and 9,250 with Bangor Hydro.

About 111 shelters remained open statewide, offering refuge to 2,089 people.

Red Cross cited additional need for blood and money.

The idea of a U.S. Navy ship docking off Washington County to provide power to that area was nixed.

Damage to Acadia National Park assessed as minimal.

Wednesday, January 13th

Vice President Gore approved Gov. King’s request to airlift additional out-of-state utility crews and vehicles to aid in power restoration. About 50 utility crews and 46 trucks offered from North Carolina.

About 104,890 households remained without power – 98,290 with CMP and 6,600 with Bangor Hydro.

National Guard and L.L. Bean donated parkas and other outdoor gear to utiltiy workers.

National Weather Service expected lower temperatures to hit the state; forecasters issued storm watch for heavy snow Thursday and Friday.

Damage estimates grew. In Penobscot County, with 20 towns reporting, costs exceeded $4 million.

111 shelters remained open, housing 1,670 people.

Bangor Hydro said it would need 170 utility poles, 144,000 feet of 115,000-volt transmission line just to repair the 8-mile line that went down in Washington County.

Food from the USDA helped restock food pantries.

A helicopter dropped tanks of fuel headed to the transmission site of WVOM radio on Passadumkeag Mountain. The first 20 tanks to power a state police transmitter were delivered safely by helicopter. High winds created a dangerous situation for the helicopter crew, forcing it to drop 22 tanks from the air. Helicopters later searched for the tanks. No injuries reported.

Several schools remained closed.

The state learned it would receive $28 million in federal housing funds.

One resident of Pleasant Valley apartments hospitalized for possible carbon monoxide poisoning and a second was taken in for observation after a muffler came off a generator.

Thursday, January 14th

Vice President Gore, Maine’s congressional delegation and James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, joined Gov. King in a tour of Lewiston and Augusta.

Utility trucks and power crews from North Carolina rolled off military cargo planes at Brunswick Naval Air Station.

About 82,000 households remained without electricity – 78,000 with Central Maine Power and 3,782 with Bangor Hydro-Electric Co..

National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for central and southwestern Maine for tonight and Friday.

Maine Department of Transportation issued a request that the public avoid all nonessential driving during the snow, as many plow routes on local roads still had obstacles due to ice storm debris.

Maine Emergency Management Agency switched gears, from handing out generators and tracking shelter activity to providing information about federal aid to business owners and individual homeowners looking to alleviate repair costs.

Damage and cost estimates to local and state agencies topped $15 million. Gore extended federal assistance to public entities to individuals, including emergency housing, low-interest loans, grants, crisis counseling and legal aid.

Gore declared Aroostook County a disaster area.

Indeck officials hoped to meet with Gov. King to respond to allegations by Bangor Hydro that it was involved in price gouging. King spent the day with Vice President Gore.

About 15 generators stolen from Bell Atlantic telephone switching stations between Cumberland and Bucksport.

More than 150 people treated for carbon monoxide poisoning since the storm began.

Most Maine Public Television stations, except for WMEA-TV in Sanford, back on the air.

A few hundred customers of Eastern Maine Electric Co-op Inc. remained without electricity.

University of Maine in Orono opened. The school planned no formal changes to its academic calendar; professors, however, may make up missed class time at their discretion.

Friday, January 15th

About 60,000 households remained without electricity – 57,300 with Central Maine Power Co. and 2,250 with Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.

Five military cargo planes carrying utility crews and equipment from North Carolina diverted from Brunswick Naval Air Station to Bangor International Airport because of weather conditions in Brunswick.

Maine potato growers gave away 18,000 pounds of spuds.

Eastern Maine Technical College, Kennebec Valley Technical College in Fairfield, Central Maine Technical College in Auburn and the three campuses of the University of Maine at Augusta remained closed. They hoped to be open by Tuesday.

Repair of the 8-mile main transmission line in Washington County expected to cost $1.5 million and would take four to six weeks to complete.

Saturday, January 17

Indeck officials, owners of a wood-fired generating plant in Jonesboro, offered to fire up the plant, deferred to a third party to determine the price of electricity. A letter sent Jan. 14 to Robert Briggs, chairman of Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., was made public and took a conciliatory stance.

698 Mainers registerd for individual assistance from FEMA.

Mainers urged to clean snow and ice off their roofs.

A loan office opened in Lewiston, with government entities and financial institutions, including the federal Small Business Administraion, lining up to offer low-interest loans.

Sunday, January 18

Less than 10 percent of Mainers left without power when the ice storm hit remained without it. 30,254 Central Maine Power and 350 Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. customers had no electricity.

Fewer than 40 shelters remained open, housing 331 people.

Monday, January 19

More than 20,000 households remained without electricity. A few hundred Hancock County residents entered their 12th day without power.

Indeck and Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. officials put last weeks argument behind them. The Jonesboro wood-fired generating plant is on 24-hour standby to help supply power to Washington County. Only 24 county customers have no power.

About 30 shelters remained open, housing 270 people.

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