Severe weather strikes Aroostook County

Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
17 years ago

Thunderstorms and high winds pummeled parts of Aroostook County on both Friday and Saturday, downing trees and power lines, damaging property and leaving many without electricity for hours.

Emergency personnel in all departments began responding to calls shortly after noon on Friday, as heavy rains and high winds whipped the County.
From Bridgewater to the St. John Valley and from the Allagash to Easton, officials could be heard on scanners reporting blocked roads, downed trees and power lines. Property damage was also reported, as residents discovered shingles and siding missing from roofs and buildings. A shopper at Wal-Mart had difficulty finding her car, when one of the metal sheds at the store blew on top of her vehicle. It wasn’t until her husband hit the panic button that the couple were able to locate their automobile.
Winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour caused hundreds of trees to be blown over or even uprooted, many snapping like twigs. A huge tree fell across the Presque Isle Stream, creating a makeshift bridge between a Dyer Street property and Riverside Drive. A wind turbine that once stood in front of a home on the Spragueville Road was no match for the weather, now resting on the ground. Power poles buckled on the Houlton Road, causing traffic to be reduced to one lane on Friday. The Parsons Road was closed for some time as crews cleared down trees. The Washburn Road and Chapman Road joined dozens of other roadways blocked or partially blocked following the storm.

Emergency crews worked throughout the night to clear roads and restore power. Businesses on North Main Street closed early on Friday, unable to continue doing business due to a power outage that prevented their use of cash registers and other needed equipment. Fairgoers rushed for shelter as fair vendors scurried to put things under cover and secure what had to be left out. Some tents were blown over onto other displays but no serious damage was reported.
By Saturday, crews were still busy trying to restore power to some areas, as property owners removed wind-blown debris. But before all could be returned to normal, another heavy storm blew through the area around 2 p.m., causing sporadic power surges and more wind damage. Officials reported heavy hail in the Van Buren area.
Senator Olympia Snowe expressed concern for those affected by the storm and was working with the Maine Emergency Management Agency to assist those in need.
“We have been in contact with MEMA to decide the best course of action to take in regard to the reported power outages and damage due to this severe weather,” said Snowe. “I will continue to keep in contact with MEMA to ensure that Mainers have the full range of assistance and resources they require. We stand at the ready to help in any way possible.”
For more information, visit www.maine.gov/mema/ or call 2-1-1 for additional assistance.