BELGRADE — Drivers took Manchester Road slowly on Thursday, as trees leaned heavily along utility lines and reduced the road to one lane at various locations.

But the drivers crawled past — and frequently stopped to gawk at — 319 Manchester Road, where five 75-foot pines lay toppled on the lawn of Bob and Pat Gammon.

The root systems were more than 10 feet in diameter and partially blocked the view of the house, where branches took down part of the deck railing as they reached toward the front of the structure.

Heavy limbs and pine boughs masked the Gammons’ red 2016 Ford 150 extended-cab pickup.

The heavy cleanup began Thursday, three days after a loud thump about 6:30 a.m. signaled the downing of the trees.

“I had gone back to bed,” Pat Gammon said. “I heard pine cones hitting the windows.”

She found that the main house was largely spared except for the damage to the deck. The utility lines had been torn from the house. Her husband had just left for work in her Hyundai Santa Fe, which had been parked in a spot where the trees had crashed.

“I could have been coming out here and those trees could have come down,” he marveled as he stood outside Thursday.

“The Lord was with us,” his wife replied.

The Gammons are two of thousands of Mainers still without utility service after Monday’s wind storm knocked down trees and power lines, initially affecting more than half of Central Maine Power Co.’s customer base. While more than 484,000 lost power immediately during the storm, CMP had reduced the number of outages to 110,647 by late Thursday afternoon. Of those, Kennebec County continued to be particularly hard hit, with 18,788 CMP customers still without power.

Many of those still without power have estimated restoration times stretching into Saturday night.

At a news briefing Thursday, officials from CMP and Emera Maine, which serves counties in eastern and northern Maine, said they are still committed to restoring power to most customers by Saturday.

“We’re reducing this number by 100,000 a day,” said Sara Burns, president and CEO of CMP. “As we get closer to the end, we have the harder and harder work to do. We’re on the more rural roads. We might have to use four or six bucket trucks to pick up one customer.”

There are still some places in CMP’s service area that line workers cannot get access to yet.

Burns continued to urge state residents not to approach line workers, who are required to stop work if someone approaches. She also said people should not stop in roadways to take photos of line trucks, which she has seen happen.

FEDERAL HELP

At the daily Maine Emergency Management Agency briefing, acting MEMA Director Peter Rogers confirmed the state will seek federal aid in the wake of the widespread storm.

“The state is pursuing a federal disaster declaration, and we’re gathering the data to get to that threshold, which is $1.9 million,” he said. “It’s going to take a number of days to get that paperwork in. We’re still in a response and a recovery mode, so we’re trying to do two things at once.”

A representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been on hand in Augusta at the MEMA office in Augusta, he said.

Every county has its own threshold, said Sean Goodwin, Kennebec County emergency management director. That contributes to the state’s total.

Kennebec County’s is $449,516, he said, and damage and injury assessments from the county’s 29 towns contribute to that.

Goodwin said FEMA has rate schedules that help communities figure out how to allocate the costs of storm recovery.

Cities and towns can’t count the salary of a public works employee, but it can allocate costs to the equipment that employee uses, and it also could count overtime hours worked on recovery.

Goodwin said the form is fairly simple. Also, if costs come to light after Friday’s deadline, revised forms can be filed.

Individual assistance also might be available, Rogers said, but it’s too early to know yet. Residents who have suffered losses — spoiled food, for instance — should collect documentation, such as receipts and photos.

Goodwin said if the losses are covered by insurance, they cannot be submitted for individual assistance as well. Damage to equipment from a power surge would be eligible, however. That individual assistance doesn’t come as a cash grant; it’s a low-interest loan.

Rogers said if people can’t afford to fix damage to their homes or property, they should contact their local general assistance administrator.

In the meantime, shelters are open in locations across the state. The most current listings can be found at the MEMA website, maine.gov/mema, or by dialing 211.

CLEANING UP

Pat Gammon called the Gammons’ insurance company at 8 a.m. Monday, and the adjuster arrived on the scene Thursday.

“They said they’re so busy,” she said.

And then workers with Deep Root Tree Service, of Farmington, fired up chain saws, and the cleanup began in earnest.

“They have a good amount of damage,” said Mark Ingrisano, owner of the tree service, as he surveyed the scene. “The poor truck. We’ll have it uncovered today.”

Ingrisano said his firm is busy with a lot of cleanup work as well as the regularly scheduled work.

He looked at the relatively shallow root system of the downed pines.

“Unfortunately, the state recently did some ditching, and it looks like they disturbed half the side of the roots,” he said.

Heavy rain fell after that work was done.

“Once you saturate the ground and add the wind, these tall pines are prone to uprooting like that,” he said.

Three neighboring pines remained standing, and Bob Gammon, 67, said he wanted them removed as well to eliminate the threat to the garage, where a generator purred, powering everything in the house.

He bought the generator three years ago and said this was the first time it had been used for an extended period of time.

The Gammons have a pellet stove as well.

“We were able to keep us cozy,” he said.

Belgrade Town Manager Dennis Keschl said he had not seen other properties hit as badly, but he listed the roads where many trees remained leaning on utility lines: Horse Point, Dunn, West, Castle Island Road, Wings Mills.

He said he had yet to travel on a number of camp roads to try to see the damage there.

Many in the town still lacked electricity, and some residents called the Town Office to find out if there were estimates on when power would be restored.

“I’ve talked to CMP dispatchers, and they say it’s so widespread there’s no knowing when certain things will be done,” Keschl said Thursday.

While the power never went out at the new Town Office, Keschl had been without power at his Belgrade home since early Monday morning. He said he noticed the lights flickering, so he got up.

“I got my clothes ironed,” Keschl said. “I hate to have wrinkled shirts.”

While he does not have a generator, many others do.

“From what I understand, there’ve been a lot of generators put in since ’98, and a lot of portable generators,” he said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

 

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ