The powerful storm that lashed Maine lacked the punch that walloped other states Monday and Tuesday, yet it still knocked out power to more than 150,000 homes and businesses, disrupted travel, shut down schools and sank a 50-foot barge.
Central Maine was hit with heavy rain and strong wind, but escaped much of the damage from the superstorm that started as Hurricane Sandy.
“All in all, we’re feeling very fortunate, especially compared to New York and New Jersey and other states that have had high impacts,” said Maine Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lynette Miller.
The first round of bad weather came overnight Monday into Tuesday, when about an inch of rain fell on central Maine, according to meteorologist Dan St. Jean at the National Weather Service office in Gray.
The second batch, ushered in with thunder, lightning and heavy downpours, began around noon on Tuesday and was expected to bring another inch-and-half of rain to the region by the time it winds down Wednesday morning.
Wind gusts from Hurricane Sandy, later downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, topped 35-44 mph in several areas, but wind damage generally was at a minimum, emergency management officials in central Maine said.
At least one injury appeared linked to the storm in central Maine.
A man on Rockland Road in Whitefield was shocked through computer headphones as a thunderstorm passed Tuesday afternoon, according to Whitefield Fire Chief Scott Higgins.
Whitefield Fire and Rescue responded to the 2:10 p.m. call along with the Windsor and Jefferson fire departments. Higgins said he didn’t know the condition of the man, but he was taken to a hospital after being checked by emergency medical technicians.
The few road closures caused by the storm mostly resulted from downed trees and power lines, which was the extent of reported damage, Miller said. There was also flooding in some areas of central Maine.
Flash floods were still expected late Tuesday in small streams and streets because of possible heavy rain and clogged storm drains, according to Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency Director Richard Beausoleil. “That’s like a rubber stopper for your bathtub when the leaves plug up your storm drain,” he said.
Beausoleil said the agency didn’t receive any service requests from towns, but was kept busy keeping local officials informed of the latest storm conditions until just after midnight.
Despite more than a week of warning and storm preparation tips from local and state officials, Beausoleil said the county agency still received calls from people three to four hours before the storm hit asking how to prepare for possible power outages.
“There’s really not an excuse not to plan ahead when we have days of warning or weeks of warning,” he said.
Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason said the department had to call in public work employees Tuesday morning before the department usually opens to unclog storm drains that were causing spot flooding. Water around clogged drains at the corners of some roads intersecting Water Street were more than two feet deep at times, he said.
Strong wind knocked down a tree on Greenville Street, taking down a power line and forcing the city to close the road for about seven hours, until Central Maine Power could shut off power and cut down the tree, Nason said.
Power outages in Maine peaked at 90,000 households and businesses Monday night, and CMP estimated that 159,000 customers lost power at some point because of the storm.
CMP reported 1,348 outages in Kennebec County at 9 p.m. Monday night, which was down to 406 by 10 a.m. Tuesday and 117 by 5 p.m.
Mount Vernon, which had the most outages of Kennebec County municipalities, still had 180 outages at 3 p.m. Tuesday. CMP reported only 29 outages in the town by 5 p.m. Mount Vernon Selectman Chairman Malcolm Hardy said the power outages were mostly on smaller, rural roads, not on any main lines.
Clean up and power restoration efforts could take several days, according to CMP spokesman John Carroll.
The company has also increased its field workforce to nearly 1,200 with additional line workers, tree crews and support personnel, Carroll said.
The Coast Guard reopened the ports of Portland and Portsmouth, N.H., to normal operations on Tuesday morning after crews found no signs of damage or hazardous conditions, said Lt. Nick Barrow. Throughout the day, guardsmen planned to visit other harbors to assess damage to marinas and determine whether boats had broken free or hazardous materials had been released into the ocean.
Ocean conditions were dangerous on Monday, but no injuries were reported, Barrow said.
In Bar Harbor, a 50-foot work barge with a crane was discovered sunk in the harbor Tuesday morning, said harbor master Charlie Phippen. The barge, which was moored, apparently took on water overnight and flooded before sinking, he said.
Dozens of schools and the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England canceled classes because of power outages. A debate among U.S. Senate candidates at USM’s Hannaford Hall was postponed from Tuesday to Friday.
Travel continued to be disrupted Tuesday, with multiple flights to and from Portland and Bangor airports canceled. Amtrak’s Downeaster passenger train remained out of service Tuesday, mostly because of power outages between Portland and Boston and disruptions involving schedules of other trains using the rail.
Paul Koenig — 621-5663
Staff Writer Doug Harlow and the Associated Press contributed to this report.