Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 2, 2017 and Island Ad-Vantages, November 2, 2017 and The Weekly Packet, November 2, 2017
High winds cause havoc locally, over 6,000 without power
by Anne Berleant and Monique Labbe
Wind gusts nearing 70 miles per hour knocked over trees and power lines across the Peninsula and island on October 30, closing schools and businesses and turning local roads into obstacle courses.
Winds picked up around 2 a.m. but a ferocious surge beginning around 7:30 a.m. amped up the damage. A tree fell onto a southbound car on Falls Bridge Road in Blue Hill, with one passenger transported to Blue Hill Memorial Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
And, while Brooklin and Sedgwick schools delayed opening and Deer Isle-Stonington schools closed for the day, students who had boarded buses for George Stevens Academy and Union 93 schools arrived to find no electricity and schools closed for the day.
The return home for some was harrowing as roads became impassable. It took one GSA student over an hour to drive home to Penobscot, having to change routes four times because of blocked roads, her father said.
But neighbors and volunteer firefighters stepped up, taking up their chainsaws to clear roads and direct traffic throughout the day. Town road crews were out in full force and convoys of repair trucks eventually moved through the area. On many hard hit roads, the detour was through a field or beneath a fallen tree that left an opening just enough for a sedan to squeeze through on the shoulder.
Many lobstermen had prepared by taking their vessels out of the water on Sunday in Stonington and Blue Hill although one boat washed up on Carrying Place Beach in Surry.
In Stonington, the Island Community Center opened its doors Tuesday morning for anybody who needed refuge, as much of the island was still without power, while in Blue Hill, the library served as a power-up center and a place to hear the latest news on Monday. GSA opened its locker room showers for students and community members in need.
In all, about 500,000 homes across the state lost power. Locally, 4,795 Emera customers and, in Castine and Penobscot, 1,489 Central Maine Power customers remained without electricity on the afternoon of October 31. That number was a moving target as crews worked to restore power, with pockets of neighborhoods restored that evening. But for some, restoration may be days away.
Wednesday morning, November 1, Emera estimated 90 percent of Hancock County customers would have power by 10 p.m. Friday with nearly all by Saturday 11 a.m., while the Central Maine Power outage web page estimated Saturday, November 4, 10 p.m. for complete restoration to Castine and Penobscot, although power returned to about 40 Castine customers Halloween evening.
But some residents could count themselves among the lucky. Just a few dozen Sedgwick residents lost power, and in some parts of Blue Hill, including downtown and Morgan Bay Road, power was restored late on Monday, October 30. Blue Hill, Sedgwick and Surry schools re-opened Tuesday, while other local schools remained closed. By Wednesday all but Castine and Penobscot were open. Maine Maritime Academy canceled classes until Monday, November 6, and closed the campus until 12 p.m. Friday, November 3.
But as dusk fell on October 31, Halloween, ghosts, princesses, goblins and ninjas began to emerge for the witching hour and trick or treating. After all, most candy doesn’t require refrigeration.