RICHMOND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- What many towns around Maine are learning is that getting back to so-called normal is going to take a team effort—from Power companies to tree cutting experts to neighborhoods—all trying to resolve what has become a patience-challenging situation.
Which brings to mind the mantra “it takes a village”. In many towns around Maine, it takes a whole host of experts to get the power back on. In the town of Richmond, that community approach is helping to bring the power back to its residents.
“I’ve lived here over 50 years, this is my parents’ home.” Like so many in this town, Richard Dickey has lived in Richmond the majority of his life. He bought the home he and his wife now live in from his parents, including the 40-foot tall spruce tree out front. It is the centerpiece of his yard and a kind of welcoming sign to anyone crossing into Richmond. It has withstood snow, sleet, even kids climbing its branches. But it wasn’t strong enough to beat Monday’s wicked morning winds. “it’s like losing a friend. We work nights, we came into town at 6 o’clock in the morning and surveying the damage, it was, well, I don’t think of myself as an emotional person, I wasn’t in tears but it was a sad moment.”
Dickey knows that despite the loss of his revered tree, he and his wife were spared. A different wind direction and they could have lost their home.
“I think this particular storm because it came from the southeast came whipping around the house and that tree’s probably never had that kind of wind come like that, I think it’s just the wrong storm.”
As the spruce splayed across the three tiers of wires providing all forms of connectivity to Richmond, Mike McIntire explained what needed to be done. He’s worked as a tree expert with Lucas Trees for the past 16 years. “We’re working with the CMP line crew and what we’re doing here has we had them ground the lines and everything and we’re going to take all the branches off this tree here, I’m going to piece it back little by little, take the tension off it.”
And with a courageous confidence, McIntire hoists himself into the bucket and raises up to above the power lines. And, as he’s done for many of the past 24 hours of tree clearing, begins his work. “We’ve had a few pretty good sized trees. It’s been pretty busy, there’s been a lot of trees on lines. It’s been busy for all of us.”
Across Main Street, neighbors huddle, watching McIntire’s progress out in front of K and G Autos.
“We have a very hard working population here in all different types of businesses that require trucks.”
Ron Demers explains that he is out selling cars and trucks, still open even without the power. Though they rely on computers and phones, K and G wanted to be open for their community, just in case.
“You never know, it’s a funny business. You can do nothing for hours and hours and then somebody who’s had a tree fall on their automobile discovers that they may need a car today. So, I’m here.”
Demers lifts his eyes, watching as limb by limb the big spruce comes down. It’s a positive sign that the power will soon be back on. But for Richard Dickey it’s bittersweet. “I think that everything has, everything has a time and a season. It’s sad but it’s the cycle of life.” When asked if he’ll plant a new tree, he shakes his head. He wouldn’t be able to watch the tree grow.
In the meantime, CMP, Emera and scores of tree companies have their work cut out for them. And tree by tree and as the power lines and poles get back up, the power goes back on around Maine. Maine’s Emergency Management Agency, or MEMA, says it hopes to have the power back on everywhere in Maine by Saturday night.
And on Wednesday, Governor Paul LePage will be touring some of the hardest hit areas around Midcoast: Bath, Harpswell, Brunswick—to see for himself the damage from this strong storm and assess the emergency that has challenged so many Mainers’ patience.