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Parts of Maine Buried By Two Feet of Snow

Maine restoring power after 2 feet of snow

 

'Warming shelters' set up as state digs out from two feet of snow

 

The Associated Press, Feb. 24, 2009

 

PORTLAND, Maine - Utility crews reinforced with line workers from out-of-state were making progress Tuesday in restoring electricity to 72,000 homes and businesses left in the dark by a wind-whipped storm that dumped two feet of snow in parts of Maine.

 

Roughly half of the more than 140,000 people who were without power at the peak of Monday's outages were back on line Tuesday morning.

 

The wet, heavy snow snapped tree limbs, power lines and utility poles. Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro Electric said efforts to restore power were complicated by poor road conditions and the rural locations of many outages.

 

The Maine Emergency Management Agency said about 15 warming shelters had been set up around the state. Bangor Hydro Electric urged residents who lacked power to prepare for the possibility that it might not be restored until Wednesday.

 

Lows for early Tuesday were forecast in the single digits in northern Maine and about 20 degrees in the south, the National Weather Service said.

 

Gov. John Baldacci declared a state of emergency extending the hours that power crews can work to restore electricity.

Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro Electric were getting help from out-of-state utilities that sent line crews to help restore service. The companies said the work was complicated by deep and heavy snow, poor road conditions and the rural locations of many outages.

 

Heavy snow fell across most of Maine through Monday morning, with some places reporting rates of 3 to 4 inches per hour.

 

Vermont, N.H. also hit

 

In Vermont, driving snow covered roads and forced the closure of northbound Interstate 89 between Waterbury and Richmond for two hours Monday because of accidents, the Vermont State Police said.

"We're having a hell of a time right now," said Larry Dodge, a Vermont Transportation Agency dispatcher.

 

Several thousand customers in eastern New Hampshire also lost power, but most had their lights back on by afternoon.

 

Hundreds of schools canceled in Maine classes for the day on what was supposed to be the first day back after a weeklong vacation. The storm caused some school closings in Vermont and New Hampshire, but many were already closed for vacation.

 

The deepest snowfall was in the northern Maine town of Milo, which received 28 inches, according to the weather service. Other impressive amounts included 26 inches in Farmington and 25 inches in Bridgton, both in Maine. New Durham, N.H., reported 17 inches.

 

In Milo, Tom Haley said the pile of plowed and shoveled snow outside Bailey Lumber Co. grew to 30 feet tall. Most people took the storm in stride, he said.

 

"It took just as long to shovel it out as the last time  and we're still waiting for spring," Haley said during a break from work. "We've had enough."

 

Christmas tree farm buried

 

About 15 miles away, the snow piled up so fast that some of the 100,000 Christmas trees grown at the Finest Kind farm disappeared from view.

 

"The little ones are just barely peeking up through the drifts," owner Jim LaCasce said of the 3- to 4-foot trees.

 

Ski areas were mostly thrilled with the latest storm. But the storm wasn't all good news at the Sugarbush ski area in Warren, Vt., which has received 56 inches of snow since Thursday. High winds forced it to close its lifts. But the forecast for the rest of the week is ideal, said spokesman JJ Toland.

 

"We're crying into our Gore-Tex today," Toland said Monday. "We'll be smiling ear to ear tomorrow."

 

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

 

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