Recently Maine’s Emergency Management Agency demonstrated the value of having a good emergency management plan, and putting it to work. During the final weekend of October there was a serious storm in Lincoln County, Maine, which hit especially hard on the coast. Speaking at the regular County Commissioners’ meeting, Tod Hartung, the Emergency Management Agency Director for the County explained what had happened.
He said that when the storm was at its strongest, over 25,000 people had no electricity. By the time Monday came around, 73 percent of those with Central Maine Power had not had their power restored. Hartung said that the EMA had worked together with the power company, but that the company had not realized the scale of the damage the storm would cause, with dozens of trees and utility poles having been blown down in the wind, or felled by the snow.
Hartung explained that the EMA had also assisted the power company by sending crews to the locations most affected to fix the downed power lines.
He said that the four staff at the Communications Center had coped with the additional 911 emergency calls, nearly 300 more than usual, with no need for extra back up. However many of the calls to 911, were not emergencies at all, simply people that were calling when they could not get hold of the power company. He stressed the need to remind people exactly when they should use the 911 number.
The worst place hit in Lincoln County was the coast, where the EMA praised the local police, sheriff and fire fighters for helping the residents in that area.
By Tuesday morning, 29 percent of people still had no power but the EMA ensured that voting could go forward as planned by employing a generator to power a local polling station.