Mainers Get Set for Irene’s Arrival; Taking Boats Out of the Water

Posted by jcashman

Courtesy of Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — From the coast to inland areas, Mainers snapped up batteries and cleared their boats from the water as Hurricane Irene zeroed in on the state Saturday.

But in a state that’s used to storms of all kinds, there were few if any signs of panic in advance of Irene’s winds that could exceed 60 mph and rainfall that could amount to 4 inches on Sunday. The storm could also bring 20 to 25 foot seas.

“I don’t think they get too shook up,” said Richard Paulsen of St. George, a peninsula that juts into the ocean. Paulsen, who’s semi-retired from the trucking business, said he’s nevertheless seen “quite a few boats taken out, lobster boats, yachts” as the storm approached.

And to avoid problems himself, Paulsen fired up his chain saw and cut down some dead trees on his property, which he thinks may be in danger of falling under the storm’s winds.

Fallen trees were also on the minds of the state’s utilities, which lined up extra crews to repair downed power lines. Central Maine Power Co., which covers most of the state, arranged to use 60 private contractors’ crews from inside Maine, plus 60 from Quebec and New Brunswick, Canada, to back up CMP’s own 80 repair crews, said spokesman John Carroll. CMP also lined up 150 tree-cutting crews, he said.

“It’ll be a huge team of people,” Carroll said.

Farther north, Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. is working hand-in-hand with Maine Public Service Co. to back each other up where needed, said spokeswoman Susan Faloon. In addition, Bangor Hydro has numerous contract crews working on utility upgrade projects in northern and eastern Maine who are ready to assist the utility in an emergency.

“People are on call in all areas of our service territory, so we’re ready to roll,” said Faloon.

Transportation officials were carefully monitoring the storm, but some, including Amtrak, had already taken precautions by canceling Sunday’s Downeaster runs. The railroad planned to inspect the tracks after the storm passes to see if service can resume Monday, said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

Portland International Jetport will remain open on Sunday, but airlines serving the jetport may change their schedules as a result of the storm, officials said. Passengers need to check with the carriers or on their websites to see the status of flights. There was no immediate information on the status of Bangor International Airport during the storm.

Vehicle ferry service to the Casco Bay Islands off Portland is expected to be canceled Sunday, based on Saturday’s weather forecasts.

Entertainment events attended by tens of thousands across the state were also cut short due to the storm. In Bangor, the final day of the American Folk Festival on Sunday was canceled amid concerns about strong winds at the Penobscot River site. Sunday’s opening of the Windsor Fair was delayed until Monday afternoon, and organizers of the Great State of Maine Air Show in Brunswick cancelled Sunday’s show.

As the state announced preparations to open shelters, former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara was planning to stay at his summer home in Kennebunkport to ride out the storm — unless he’s asked to leave.

Jim Appleby, spokesman for the Bushes, says plans were made to move them to an inland location if the surf and wind become too rough at their Walker’s Point home.

“The most important thing that they want to know is that they — along with everyone — are going to follow what the emergency management folks say,” Appleby said.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency released a list of emergency shelters around the state but said the latest updates are available on the 211 toll-free information line. Gov. Paul LePage, who has declared a state of emergency, planned a briefing Saturday afternoon with MEMA Director Robert McAleer to discuss the impending storm.

Elsewhere, Mainers were stocking up on taking about Hurricane Irene and its potential impact on Maine.

“We’ve been steady, very steady,” said Phyllis Mason of the Farmers Union True Value Hardware store in Farmington, where tarps, lamp oil, batteries, flashlights and candles were among the hot items Saturday.

Shaw Supermarkets said business picked up sharply Friday and Saturday in the chain’s 22 Maine stores as storm-conscious shoppers stocked up on staples, especially bread, water and other non-perishables, said spokesman Steve Sylven.

“We’ve seen a lot of water and bread fly off the shelf,” Sylven said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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Posted by jcashman on Aug 27 2011. Filed under Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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