An ice storm caused severe infrastructure damage to the Maine power grid last weekend. Scene of power lines and poles toppled in Augusta, Maine (Twitter Photo/@hadikasrawi).
By Meghan Evans
Thousands of customers are still without power following an ice storm that slammed parts of the U.S. and Canada last weekend and more cold, snow and wind may cause issues through the weekend and early next week.
Governor Paul R. LePage announced a Maine Disaster Relief Fund on Christmas Day, so that people can donate to those affected by the ice storm.
“We know how generous Maine people can be, especially at Christmas time,” LePage said. “We have heard from a number of people asking how they can help.”
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Central Maine Power reported that just over 400 customers still had no power as of Saturday morning. Bangor Hydro Electric said that nearly 4,000 customers were without power as of Saturday morning.
“There was severe infrastructure damage to poles and lines,” Lynette Miller, spokesperson of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, said. With additional rounds of snow forecast, Miller expressed concern over more possible damage and outages.
A storm strengthened off the New England coast Thursday evening, allowing up to 6 inches of snow to fall across Maine.
People are urged to use caution when operating generators during the power outage. Miller confirmed that one person was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in Maine after the weekend ice storm. There were two other documented carbon monoxide cases as well, but no other fatalities were reported as of early Thursday.
The weekend ice storm also knocked out power to 150,000 DTE Energy customers in Michigan, and 2,700 remain in the dark as of Friday night.
More than 105,000 customers are still without power across the state of Michigan, according to Ron Leix, public information officer for the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.
Several Michigan counties have declared local states of emergency, with fears of cold and wind for citizens dealing without power and heat. Two men were killed in Michigan by carbon monoxide poisoning while running generators in enclosed garages.
“We’re willing and ready to help if needed, and we’re in constant dialogue with emergency management,” Leix said.
Temperatures will briefly rebound over the weekend, potentially providing some relief with hopes that ice coating trees and lines may melt.
However, a quick-moving storm, which will mark the leading edge of an arctic blast, looms. It will spread snow and wind back over portions of the Midwest that are still coping without power.
Snow showers and wind will lash Michigan Sunday night into Monday. While little to no snow accumulation is expected, wind gusts may surpass 40 mph locally. Winds of that magnitude may be strong enough to cause more widespread power outages.
A separate storm running up the Eastern Seaboard may spread accumulating snow and wind into eastern Maine Sunday night and Monday as well.
Temperatures will plummet across the Midwest and Northeast through New Year’s Day, with brutally cold AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures in the single digits and teens adding to the concerns. – AccuWeather