More than 481,000 Maine customers were without power by Monday night following a powerful wind and rainstorm — exceeding the peak number of power outages reported during the historic Ice Storm of 1998.

It could take multiple days to fully restore power, and restoration work won’t start until crews de-energize downed lines, according to Gail Rice, spokeswoman for Central Maine Power Co. The company wasn’t expected to have an estimated restoration time until Tuesday, she added.

“We know it is going to be a multiple-day recovery. I can’t really say more than that,” Rice said. “In terms of outage numbers, this is the worst we have experienced in our history.”

Approximately 62 percent of Central Maine Power and Emera Maine customers were without power by late Monday afternoon. That included more than 76,000 customers in Kennebec, Franklin and Somerset counties and nearly 500,000 statewide between both CMP and Emera.

Gov. Paul LePage issued a state of emergency Monday to help utility companies restore electricity as quickly as possible by permitting crews to work longer hours than normally allowed by law.

Central Maine faced localized flooding, downed power lines and blocked roads after the powerful storm swept through the state, causing the most damage some officials have seen in decades. Schools across central Maine canceled classes Monday.

Waterville Public Works Director Mark Turner said he hasn’t seen damage from a storm like this since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

“It’s unusual for rain and wind to come through overnight like it did last night,” he said Monday.

In Waterville and Augusta, nearly 6,000 customers were without power, including many businesses, and large swaths of the area were without traffic lights as motorists traveled through backed-up intersections and packed gas stations.

In Belgrade, the Hammond Lumber Company sustained damage to one of its storage buildings in the storm. Located on Hammond Drive, the business lost part of the roof off one of its buildings early Monday morning. It appeared most of the damage was limited to an upper level part of the building.

Rod Wiles, director of personnel, said they were still assessing the damage. “I’m sure there are many folks in the area that sustained a lot worse,” Wiles said.

Fred Perkins, sales manager at the Belgrade Hammond Lumber Company, said the damage occurred before anyone was on site. He said the building is largely a storage facility, and the area most impacted was an attic space. The building is largely used for building material and some maintenance supplies. He said the damage was limited to the roof area and was not foundational.

“It could have been worse,” Perkins said.

‘LIKE A WAR ZONE’

Over in Monmouth, Fire Chief Dan Roy said “it was like a war zone, complete chaos, this morning.”

Starting around 4:30 a.m., Roy said the fire department’s 20 or so firefighters and their four trucks went from call to call, handling roughly 40 calls — mostly for downed trees — in four hours.

“We’re about out of resources. I was commandeering guys with pickup trucks and chainsaws,” Roy said.

He said there were trees and power lines down everywhere, transformers down, and multiple roads were impassable due to downed trees and lines.

A 500-gallon propane tank at Camp Kippewa, off Route 135, was struck by three trees and punctured, allowing gas to leak out. Roy said the road to the camp was blocked by still more trees so all they could do was let the tank vent the gas out into the air.

He urged residents to not touch any power lines, watch for trees, not run equipment like generators inside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and be careful with candles.

Roy said at least a couple of homes in Monmouth were hit by trees, but the trees didn’t penetrate the homes’ roofs. He said the wind gusted up to 70 miles per hour.

In Waterville, the damage appeared to be “pretty widespread” Monday morning, according to Turner. “We have trees down in both the north side of the city and the western side of the city,” he said.

The areas with major flooding are Main Street, College Avenue, Drummond Avenue, Cool Street, Burleigh Street and Water Street, he said, though there were still calls coming in.

Waterville police Deputy Chief Bill Bonney said they’ve received many reports of trees and poles down in the city, as well as low-hanging wires. There have also been a number of reports of tree limbs falling on vehicles.

Additional personnel were called in to work at the communications center due to the influx of calls, he said.

In Fairfield, Public Works Director Bruce Williams said virtually every road was impacted by downed power lines following the storm. He said his department was working to try to keep roads clear, and several roads remained closed Monday afternoon as they waited for Central Maine Power to clear downed lines.

“A majority of the town is without power at this time,” Williams said.

Williams said his crews had been working nonstop since 6 a.m., and power loss had been an issue at the pump station.

In Skowhegan, Road Commissioner Gregory Dore said there were a lot of trees down as a result of the storm. He said crews went out onto the roads at 7 a.m., and by mid-afternoon were still clearing trees from the roads. He said there hadn’t been any roads flooded yet, but a significant number of residents were still without power. He estimated crews would need up to a week to finish clearing the roads and cleaning up after the storm, but there hadn’t been much damage around the town.

Norridgewock Town Manager Richard LaBelle said the town’s Public Works department had been working steadily, and there were still roads closed by mid-afternoon Monday. While he said they were doing the best they could to keep roads opened, they were struggling with contact with CMP, as many towns were.

Winslow Public Works Director Paul Fongemie said there were trees and power lines down in almost every road in town. While most roads had been opened up by Monday evening, there were still a number of homes without power. He said the public works department was still running on a generator, and that there were outages from there into the Smiley Acres part of town.

Fongemie said there was a broken pole on Ames Road, which he called a “disaster zone” and would remain closed for the time being. There was some street flooding, and a number of residents had a “dark night” ahead of them.

FLOODING, MORE DAMAGE

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service in Gray is monitoring rivers in Maine as mountainous areas are hit with high rainfalls, filling up the rivers’ headwaters. The weather service issued a warning that “extremely dangerous” flooding was possible across the western mountains.

The Swift River in Roxbury is already flooded, according to meteorologist Margaret Curtis, and the Carrabassett, Sandy and Kennebec rivers are expected to follow within the next day.

While there was significant rainfall in other parts of the state, central Maine only saw about 1.5 inches of rain according to reports from the Augusta State Airport, said meteorologist Eric Schwibs.

The weather service issued a storm warning until 5 p.m. Monday for the state. It has also issued high wind and flash flood warnings, Curtis said.

Wind speeds peaked at 131 mph in Mount Washington, New Hampshire. The weather service received reports of 70 mph winds in Augusta, and the Augusta State Airport reported 60 mph winds. In Waterville, wind speed was reported at 39 mph.

“A high wind warning around here is pretty rare,” Curtis said. Even on days that feel windy, the wind speed is closer to 25 mph.

Due to the high wind, outages were continuing to happen throughout Monday, and CMP crews can’t safely go out in buckets to repair poles. On Monday, they’re focused on making downed wires safe, Rice said.

The storm, which has been traveling up the Northeast coast, has already littered the central Maine streets with tree limbs, electrical poles and downed wires.

Readfield Fire Chief Lee Mank said several roads in town were closed due to downed trees and power lines. He said he had heard a couple of houses were struck by trees, sustaining roof damage.

Mank said firefighters were following Central Maine Power crews, cleaning roads of trees and other debris after the CMP workers worked on the power lines.

“This one is right up there, reminiscent of the ice storm,” Mank said.

Major roads were among those closed off because of trees in the road, including Route 24 in Richmond and Route 27 in Dresden and Route 9 in Chelsea. A tree fell on a home on Route 197 in Dresden, landing on the roof and also appearing to have damaged a car parked in the driveway.

In Augusta, Battalion Chief Steven Leach of the Augusta Fire Department said additional firefighting crews were called in about 4 a.m. Monday after reports of dozens of locations with power lines down, trees down across power lines, and trees on vehicles.

“We had one vehicle that was trying to drive across a downed power line, and it got caught up in the axle, and he spun off the road,” he said. That was about 7 a.m. Monday in the area of South Belfast Road.

He said crews from Central Maine Power Company cut the power line, but the vehicle had to be towed because the cable was still wound around the axle.

“Don’t drive across a downed power line,” Leach said.

David Heidrich, director of communications at the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services said via email that a tree broke two windows when it came down at 221 State St. in Augusta.

“Aside from that, power outages are the only issue state-occupied facilities have experienced due to the storm,” he said.

Staff writers Keith Edwards, Colin Ellis and Betty Adams contributed to this report.