AUGUSTA — One day before Hurricane Lee is expected to brush by Maine, local officials are gearing up for the impacts of the storm.

In cities and towns across central Maine, emergency responders and public works departments are staffing up, checking equipment and reaching out to residents with information and resources.

“We’re going to be on a standby mode, because we don’t see this being much more than basically a nor’easter that we have all been through before,” Sean Goodwin, interim director of the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency, said at a briefing Friday morning.

Hurricane Lee was expected to be located off Cape Cod by 2 a.m. Saturday and move due north, making landfall in the Maritimes sometime Saturday. While the worst of the impact is expected east of central Maine, officials remain concerned about possible damage from wind and rain, including falling trees and flooding.

Nikki Becker, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said Lee remained a category 1 hurricane Friday afternoon, prompting a tropical storm warning for central Maine that’s expected to be in effect through Saturday.

Rain is expected to start falling overnight Friday into Saturday, bringing anywhere from a half-inch to an inch-and-a-half of rain to the region, along with winds that could gust as high as 55 mph.


“We’re not expecting flooding issues inland,” Becker said.

Since falling trees are a concern, public safety officials in Augusta and Waterville are reaching out to unhoused people in those cities to urge them to leave any wooded areas where encampments might be located.

“We’ve already been out, talked to our unhoused, trying to get them out of the woods,” said Jason Frost, Waterville’s deputy fire chief.

They’ve also reached out to the city’s restaurants with outdoor dining to urge them to bring in tables and chairs and anything else that’s not secured.

At Thomas College in Waterville, where many students started heading home on Thursday, Chris Santiago, director of safety and security, said that workers are removing everything that that’s not tied down. He noted that not many events had been canceled.

Kevin Lully, Augusta’s deputy police chief, said Friday that although camping is not generally allowed in city parks, homeless people are being encouraged to stay in Mill Park, so that when the Augusta Civic Center is opened as a temporary shelter on Saturday, public safety officials will be able to find them and notify them.


“Mill Park is centrally located and is open and lacks tall trees and power lines,” Lully said, “so it is a much safer although temporary option than them remaining in various wooded areas.”

The Civic Center will open as a storm shelter Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Augusta Fire Chief David Groder said Friday his department is also trying to reach unhoused people, using “reverse 911” to help make notifications. The city’s Public Works Department has also set up a phone system to notify social service agencies to share information about using the pavilion at Mill Park for cover.

An announcement was expected sometime Friday on opening the Civic Center.

At Thursday’s Augusta City Council meeting, Marshall Mercer, executive director of Hope Brokers Inc., asked about overnight shelter.

“We’re not going to push people out at 9 o’clock if we’re in the middle of the storm,” City Manager Susan Robertson said.


Across Kennebec County, local officials are checking equipment and generators and deciding how and when to deploy extra staffing to ensure roads and storm drains are clear as the storm moves through.

In Gardiner, Rick Sieberg, chief of the Fire Department and Ambulance Service, said Gardiner is planning to staff its third ambulance and station it in Richmond for 24 hours starting Saturday morning.

Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency staff restated the importance of documenting the damage from earlier disaster declarations before the storm as well as damage from this weekend’s storm.

Michael Smith, director of the Somerset County Emergency Management Agency, said he’s still expecting wind and rain across that county, but he was monitoring the weather Friday to see how any forecast changes will affect Somerset County.

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