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Central Maine Power, Versant Power prepare for Hurricane Lee's impacts on Maine

Central Maine Power and Versant Power are prepared with additional crews for Saturday's storm. The companies also have some pointers for Mainers.

MAINE, Maine — Central Maine Power told NEWS CENTER Maine its staff and weather team has gathered to plan ahead of Hurricane Lee. Spokesperson Jon Breed said trees are a major concern with this specific storm. 

“CMP’s meteorologists are continuously updating our teams with the latest information on Hurricane Lee so we can appropriately prepare,” Breed said. “While forecast models continue to present different storm outcomes, as the track becomes clearer over the next 24-36 hours, we will provide regular updates to our customers on our storm response planning and preparations.”

Breed said Maine has had an extraordinarily wet summer, which has resulted in tree stress due to increased soil saturation, flooding, and nutrient runoff. These conditions, which can lead to weakened or rotted root systems, has negatively affected the health of trees across Maine.

“This summer, the number one cause of power outages has been from stressed trees located outside CMP’s legal ‘right-of-way’ zone that either fall or lose limbs during storms,” Katie Manende, who leads CMP’s vegetation management program, explained. “Depending on Hurricane Lee’s track and the strength of the storm’s winds, we could see worsened impacts to Maine’s power grid because of these conditions.”

RELATED: What we know so far about Hurricane Lee and potential impacts in Maine

“As we prepare for and respond to Hurricane Lee, crew and customer safety will always be our number one priority,” Breed noted.

CMP anticipates strong winds, heavy rains, and fallen trees with the storm. 

“Earlier this week, we began preparing for Hurricane Lee by inspecting the power grid, assessing staging areas, and securing additional resources, equipment, and crews," Breed added. “The company is bringing in extra power restoration crews to provide additional coverage, and we will stage teams as the weather forecast dictates regionally starting Friday.”

RELATED: Torrential rains, flash floods and a likely tornado hit New England. Hurricane Lee is up next

It's also important to remember CMP crews are prohibited from using raised bucket trucks if windspeeds are greater than 35 mph.

Versant Power said it is preparing for high winds and heavy rain as well. 

"Wind gusts up to 60mph are predicted throughout our service territory, particularly in the Bangor region and along the coast," a Versant representative said.

“The storm path is still uncertain, but we’re preparing for outages throughout our service territory and have secured contract crews to support our internal crews over the weekend into the beginning of next week as necessary,” Kevin Black, storm manager for Versant Power, said. “With already saturated ground and leaves on the trees, we’re anticipating downed trees and branches to bring down lines.”

Here are some reminders if you lose power:

  • Stay away from downed lines. No line is safe to touch.
  • Turn off or unplug major appliances and sensitive electronics.
  • Never use ranges or outdoor stoves to heat your home.
  • If you need shelter or food, reach out to 211 for available resources.
Credit: CMP

RELATED: NEWS CENTER Maine Weather Forecast

If you lose service:

For customers with generators:

  • Hire a licensed electrician to install permanent generators and transfer switches.
  • Properly ground all portable generators.
  • Carefully read and observe all instructions in your generator’s operating manual.
  • Never run a generator indoors, or even in an open garage.
  • If your carbon monoxide detector goes off – get out of the building immediately and call 911.
  • Do not store fuel indoors or try to refuel a generator while it’s running.
  • Refer to CMP’s web page on generator safety.

You can also prepare by:

  • Ensuring you have a supply of fresh water and easy-to-make nonperishable food items.
  • Charging your cellphone and other electronic devices.
  • Preparing flashlights and a battery-operated radio in case you must shelter in place until it is safe to travel.
  • Customers with special medical needs are encouraged to create a plan to follow if power to their home is interrupted for a period of time.

Versant Power wants to remind everyone that if you must travel, be mindful of flooding or pooling of water on roadways, as well as downed trees, branches, or power lines. Never touch a downed power line or a tree that's touching one, because it's not possible to tell if a line is energized simply by looking at it.

Versant customers can fill out a Power Issue Report Form, call the Customer Contact Center at 207-973-2000, or report an outage directly from their online services account.

Central Maine Power customers can click here to report an outage. Here is a link to instructions to download its app for more up-to-date outage information.

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