Utility Companies Say Power Restoration Efforts Slow Going

BANGOR, MAINE WABI Emergency crews spent much of the day responding to downed trees and power lines.

Dangerous driving conditions combined with gusty winds to hamper crews restoring power.

Utility companies urge everyone to keep safe as they work to bring electricity back online during the next few days.

Joy Hollowell reports.
Power outage levels surged quickly as gusty winds and rain moved through the region.

"You went from zero to hundreds of thousands in a pretty short period of time," says Susan Faloon, Public Information Officer for the Maine Emergency Management Agency. "A lot of the reason for that is that the ground isn't frozen. We also have trees with leaves on them so you've got the weight of the rain on the trees."

MEMA partially activated its state emergency operations center. They're coordinating with the state department of transportation, the public utilities commission and other agencies to address the power outages.

"As soon as the winds have subsided to a level that we can safely put live workers up in a bucket truck, we will have them out doing power restoration," says Judy Long, Communication Specialist for Emera Maine. "We'll target the areas that will have the broadest impact first."

Emera Maine is tapping into outside resources to help with that effort.

"We're also moving on to check transmission lines which carry the bulk of the power throughout the region," explains Long. "We won't be able to restore power to anyone until the transmission lines are back in service."

Downed power lines are a major safety concern, as there is no way to determine whether a wire is still energized.

"Electricity will take the quickest path to the ground," warns Faloon. "If you're holding on to the car which is touching the power line and you're touching the ground, that path will be right through your body and that could be deadly."

Stay in your car until help arrives. If you do need to exit, jump out without touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time.

"We always want to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best," says Faloon. "I think today will probably land somewhere in-between."
If you are using a generator for power, make sure to follow the manufacturer's guidelines. Don't use it in an enclosed area and make sure it is far enough away from your home to be well-ventilated.

Check on your neighbors, especially if they are unable to get out on their own. For those that use oxygen, make sure they have a back up plan in case the power is out for an extended period of time.

And don't forget about your pets. If you do need to stay at a shelter, make sure it accepts pets. If not, plan accordingly in case you are not able to get back into your resident right away.

For the latest updates from the Maine Emergency Management Agency, you can check out their website at http://www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/ or go to their Facebook page.