Heavy wind dislodged a piece of the siding on Chocolate Church’s steeple Wednesday. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

BATH — Heavy rain and wind battered the southern Midcoast Wednesday morning, causing widespread power outages and some minor damage, including to the Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath.

Over 9,700 of the 21,775 Central Maine Power customers in Sagadahoc County were still without power as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. Hardest hit were Bath with 3,515 outages, Phippsburg with 2,053 outages and Georgetown with 1,208.

Not a single CMP customer in Arrowsic, Georgetown or Phippsburg had power restored as of 4 p.m. Wednesday with no estimated restoration time, according to CMP Spokeswoman Catherine Hartnett.

“In towns like Georgetown, where the town is one long peninsula, everyone is one one long circuit,” said Hartnett. “The way that those circuits were built years ago, if one circuit goes out, everyone loses power.”

Hartnett said restoring power has been difficult because the wind continued into the early afternoon Wednesday, making it unsafe for crews to work on power lines in their bucket trucks.

She also said the company was surprised by how many customers lost power.

“We expected strong winds at the coast, but what we didn’t expect was how widespread the wind was,” said Hartnett. “Nothing we saw in the forecast made us think outages would be this severe, but we had close to a 50-mile-per-hour gust in Augusta.”

The extensive outages led officials from the Brunswick School Department and Regional School Unit 1, to announce they “realize this may impact the ability of students and staff to access remote learning” and will “adjust our plans accordingly” on social media.

RSU 1 covers Bath, Phippsburg, Arrowsic and Woolwich.

Although many were left in the dark, Sarah Bennett, Sagadahoc County Emergency Management Agency director, said the storm didn’t cause any serious damage.

“So far all we’re aware of are the typical branches on wires and roads and we’re working with CMP to identify where roads are closed because tree branches are on wires,” she said. “In the county we have about six roads that are closed, but none of them are major thruways.”

Although the storm didn’t cause any flooding or fires, the steeple of the 173-year-old Gothic Revival-style Chocolate Church in Bath was damaged.

“One of the wooden crowns above a window opening pulled away from the siding and was flopping back and forth during the high winds,” said Paula McKinney, a member of the Chocolate Church’s board of trustees. “There may be an opportunity to fix the damage when the final stage of painting the building gets underway next spring, but trustees have been searching for a painting firm with a lift that can reach the top of the tower which is 81 feet.”

Gordon McKinney, Paula McKinney’s husband and fellow trustee said he doesn’t think the piece will be difficult to reattach, but said it will most likely be expensive solely because it will require someone with a lift stretching at least 80 feet to reach.

In April the Chocolate Church Arts Center was awarded a nearly $50,000 grant through the REvitalizeME sub-grant program, awarded by the Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center Program in partnership with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

William Lederer, executive director of the Chocolate Church, said the grant will be used to hire structural engineers and architects to assess the condition of the building, give an estimate on what needs to be done first and how much that will cost so the organization can start fundraising. He said that assessment has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.


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