Restoring Power Remains Governor’s Top Priority

August 30, 2011

Governor LePage reaches out to CMP, county emergency directors and approves expedited repair efforts

For Immediate Release: August 30, 2011 Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531

Augusta, Maine – As the clean-up from Tropical Storm Irene continues, Governor Paul LePage spoke today with Central Maine Power (CMP) President and Chief Executive Officer Sara Burns to discuss ongoing efforts to restore power to thousands of Mainers. On Sunday, Tropical Storm Irene damaged property, uprooted trees and knocked out power to more than a 330,000 Maine residents.

According to Burns, CMP has restored power to more than 200,000 homes and businesses in its service area since the storm moved through on Sunday. As of Tuesday afternoon, 75,000 Central Maine Power customers remain without power. Burns told the Governor she expects to reduce that number to fewer than 50,000 by this evening.

“I appreciate the hard work and long hours utility crews have put in to restore power,” the Governor said. “I ask Mainers, who are still without electricity, to remain patient. I do not intend to lift the State of Emergency until all Mainers have the lights back on.”

Governor LePage also reached out to Emergency Management Directors today to assess their needs and offer state assistance.

Officials encourage those who have a hardship created by the storm or power outage to let their local town officials know. “Also, the volunteer community has offered a limited number of trained chainsaw crews and basement clean-up crews for those with no other resources. If you are in need of volunteer assistance you may call 211 Maine (dial 2-1-1 toll free) to inquire about these resources. 211 can also refer you to other programs and services that may be of assistance," said MEMA Director Robert McAleer.

Maine has requested Preliminary Damage Assessment teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to verify local damage reports. This is a necessary step in determining if Maine will be eligible for disaster assistance programs.

MEMA Director Robert McAleer expects teams will be in the field no later than next Tuesday, but may be here sooner if needed as a deployment plan is still being developed.

“MEMA is collecting damage estimates from communities, primarily for public infrastructure damage, debris clearance and response costs,” said Director McAleer. “We should also learn through these reports of homes or businesses that are affected,” he added.

Meanwhile, Governor LePage gave his approval today to allow the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to proceed with accelerated Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) contracting for replacement of the two bridges on Route 27 in Carrabassett Valley that collapsed due to Tropical Storm Irene. CM/GC contracting is a nationally recognized method of accelerated construction that has been approved by a number of organizations, including the Federal Highway Administration.

“Getting the Route 27 corridor back in action is essential to Maine’s economic relationship with Canada, as well as the Western Maine tourism industry and the way of life for area residents,” said Governor LePage. “My administration will be doing everything we can to get this important road back open.”

MDOT has secured access through private roads to allow people to access Sugarloaf/USA until Route 27 can be repaired. However, access beyond Carrabassett Valley to Stratton and beyond is currently subject to a detour: From Kingfield, Route 142 to Phillips, then Route 4 from Phillips to Rangeley, then Route 16 from Rangeley to Stratton.

"The Governor's actions will expedite the construction process, allowing us to move forward quickly in reestablishing this important economic corridor and restoring a sense of normalcy for area residents," said MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt.

Governor LePage also signed an Executive Order at the request of the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) updating the membership of the State Emergency Response Team and State Disaster Assistance Team. MEMA Director Rob McAleer had appointed the Maine Department of Education to the Emergency Response Team on an ad hoc basis under existing authority granted in a previous Executive Order.

“MEMA has asked that the Department of Education be officially added to the Emergency Response Team. While the resources of the Department and municipalities – including school buses for evacuations and school facilities for shelters – were only partially needed for this storm, this Order will ensure their expertise is officially at the table and ready to serve Maine people,” continued Governor LePage.