WEST GARDINER — Earl Crocker has lived off Hallowell-Litchfield Road for nearly 50 years, and he spent 16 days without power during the Ice Storm of 1998, but he said he doesn’t remember anything happening like the storm that hit early Monday and knocked out power to thousands across the state.

Crocker and his wife, Mildred, live on a quarter-mile stretch of the road that has been closed since Tuesday because a large tree fell on top of some power lines. The tree has been removed, but the lines are still down and there is still no power.

“I’ve got this generator going and I’ve got a wood stove, so we’re doing all right,” Crocker said. His generator has been powering his water pump, his hot water heater and his septic system throughout the week, and he said he’s been told to expect power to return by 10 p.m. Saturday.

Down the street at the intersection of Hallowell-Litchfield Road and routes 9 and 126, people have been pouring into the Litchfield Country Store since Monday morning.

Sarah Baril and Brianna Burnham, two employees, said the store never lost power and has never gotten the kind of business it has this week. People having been coming in droves for gas — the store ran out of gas Monday — coffee, pizza, ice, water and other essentials, while others are coming for the community.

“I had a woman call yesterday who just wanted to talk,” Burnham said. “Eventually I told her I had to get back to work.”


Owner Corynne French doesn’t live far from the business, but while the store never lost power, French’s home has been without it since early Monday morning. She has been going to relatives’ and friends’ houses with her three children to stay warm, take showers and relax.

“I saw one truck Tuesday that I’m sure was surveying the damage,” French said. “We have been running a generator, but I’m afraid to run it overnight because it’s expensive and I get nervous about carbon monoxide.”

In Monmouth at the Cobbossee Colony Golf Course, more than 100 trees were knocked down, with a row of trees toppled in the woods off the first and ninth fairways. A large oak tree fell and caused heavy damage to the fourth green, and co-owner Dave Sylvester said it’ll probably cost his family some money to clean up the course.

The forest around the course is also a tree farm that Sylvester said usually is cut every seven years. He thinks they might be able to recoup some of the restoration costs by selling the logs. The woods next to the first fairway also has a U.S. Cellular-owned tower, and Sylvester and three others spent four hours earlier this week to clear a path for a truck to put a generator on the tower.

“It hasn’t been a good month, that’s for sure,” Sylvester said, alluding to the vandalism that occurred on the course in early October, causing thousands of dollars in damage there.

More than 484,000 outages were reported immediately after the storm, which brought heavy wind and rain to the state Sunday night into Monday. CMP had reduced the number of outages to about 53,700 by late Friday afternoon. Of those, Kennebec County continued to be particularly hard hit, with 11,790 CMP customers still without power, including 897 in Litchfield, according to CMP. By Friday night, the county total had shrunk to 8,494.


French said she’s been checking the CMP website regularly to see if any progress has been made on determining when her house will have its power restored, but so far it’s just a vague estimate. Her family camps during the summer, so it hasn’t been as big a challenge to be without electricity, but it still isn’t ideal.

“I think they’re doing the best they can and are overwhelmed,” French said. “It’s nobody’s fault, but it is frustrating.”

Sara Burns, CMP’s president and CEO, said on Thursday that the work to restore power gets harder as crews get closer to the end. Crews are often on rural roads and might need multiple bucket trucks to fix lines to restore power to a single customer, she said.

Burns said a workforce of 2,300 people — including crews from as far away as Canada and Kentucky — have been working to restore power. On Friday, 75 additional crews were expected to arrive in Maine, according to CMP.

More than 90 shelters across the state are offering residents a variety of services including food in some places, charging for electronic devices, hot showers and a warm place to stay. A complete list along with services offered is available at the MEMA website. Residents also can call 211 for more information about shelters and warming centers.

Ann Kim, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross in Maine, said shelters in Augusta, Bath and Norridgewock, which opened Wednesday, would close Friday evening. The Red Cross has mobilized volunteers and employees to provide for people affected by this week’s storm, which knocked out power to a record number of Maine homes and businesses.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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