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January 5, 2018 | last updated January 11, 2018 4:39 pm

Maine dodges a 'weather bomb,' Coast Guard searching for missing clammer

Photo / Peter Van Allen
Photo / Peter Van Allen
Construction workers and snow removal crews were on the job Friday morning in Yarmouth on the U.S. Route 1 construction project to replace the bridge over Main Street in Yarmouth. The contract is held by Reed & Reed Inc. of Woolwich. Yarmouth received a foot of snow in Thursday's storm.

Thursday's blizzard packed lots of snow and strong winds but largely spared Maine from the extensive power outages that left 500,000 people without power following a similar "weather bomb" storm in late October.

Central Maine Power — which serves 618,000 homes and businesses, representing about 80% of Maine's customer base. — reported at 9 a.m. that only 291 customers were without power. Emera Maine, which serves 159,000 customers in Hancock, Piscataquis and Washington Penobscot and Aroostook counties, reported no customers were without power at 9 a.m. after reporting 135 outages earlier this morning.

"In the whole scheme of things, it wasn't too bad of a storm," said Gail Rice, CMP spokeswoman. She said at peak, 5,300 customers lost power, mostly in Lincoln and Kennebec counties.

Bob Potts, of Emera Maine, said that Friday morning the company "is feeling like we dodged a little bit of a bullet."

Outages at the company, which provides service to the Downeast areas projected to be the hardest hit from the storm, never went about 1,000 at a time he said.

The company had doubled crews and taken other measures in anticipation of as many as 30,000 outages. "It's one of those situations where people say 'hope for the best, prepare for the worst,' and it turned out to be a nice situation where it worked out that way."

Search underway for missing clammer

WMTW News 8 reported that the the Coast Guard is searching Friday for a missing clammer off the coast of St. George.

Paul Benner, 33, of Thomaston, was reported overdue at 11:30 p.m. Thursday, according to WMTW, adding that his 16-foot skiff had been located. A Coast Guard helicopter and boat were taking part in the search in Long Cove. The Knox County Sheriff's Department and Maine Marine Patrol are also involved.

AccuWeather reported a wind chill advisory remains in effect until 11 a.m. Saturday for Maine and New Hampshire, noting that cold wind chills could range from 15 below zero to 24 below zero depending on the location.

The National Weather Service Office in Gray reported snowfalls ranging from 15 inches in Norway to a low of 5.5 inches in Boothbay.

Reports of coastal flooding

Photo / Peter Van Allen
Photo / Peter Van Allen
Snowplows continue to clear roads Friday following Thursday's blizzard accompanied by snowfalls as high as 15 inches in some western Maine communities.

The Portland Press Herald reported that Thursday's blizzard created flooding on piers near J's Oyster Bar on the Portland waterfront as well as on Somerset Street near Whole Foods and on Marginal Way near Diamond Street.

John Cannon, a senior meteorologist with the NWS office in Gray, told the newspaper that the blizzard and storm surge created the third-highest tide in Portland in more than 100 years, with Thursday's high tide of 13.79 feet falling just below the record of 14.17 feet reported in the Blizzard of 1978.

The Press Herald also reported the Hurricane Restaurant in Dock Square in Kennebunkport was flooded early Thursday afternoon and that Port Clyde's commercial fishing pier was impacted by severe flooding.

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported that the Amtrak Downeaster canceled trains 685 and 688 on Thursday but all other trains were scheduled to operate Thursday, although Amtrak officials warned travelers to expect delays. Concord Coach Lines canceled all bus service Thursday from Maine, New Hampshire, Boston and New York, the newspaper added, while Greyhound canceled service in Maine from midnight Thursday through 8 a.m. Friday, the newspaper reported.

Delayed openings

A crew from HarriSons Earthworks of Freeport clears snow away from Depot Street in downtown Freeport Friday morning.

Many businesses, services and government officers that were closed Thursday or shortened their hours opened as expected Friday, or delayed opening by an hour or two, according to media closure lists.

Katahdin Trust Company branches were opening at noon Friday, and Acadia Federal Credit Union, Cumberland County FCU, Evergreen FCU and other banks and credit unions reported that they would have a two-hour later opening than normal.

Many of the state's school districts reported one or two-hour delays, but some schools, particularly in coastal areas were closed, including the University of Maine in Augusta and Farmington, University College programs in the Mid Coast and western Maine, Portland schools, Cheverus High School in Portland, and a number of smaller private schools and day care centers.

While the state's legislative offices were open Friday, public hearings and committee meetings were canceled.

The Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick remained closed Friday — not from the effects of the storm, but because of problems resulting from a frozen water pipe on Wednesday afternoon.

Update: Missing clammer's body recovered on Jan. 8

Editor's note: The Bangor Daily News reported that crews searching for the clammer who was reported missing in the Jan. 4 blizzard discovered his body in the Long Cove area of Tenants Harbor shortly before noon Monday, Jan. 8. The Maine Marine Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard and local boaters launched an extensive search over several days for Paul Benner, 33, of Thomaston, the newspaper reported. The Maine Marine Patrol told the BDN that a Maine State Police dive team recovered Benner's body after local commercial fishermen broke up the ice in the cove Sunday, making it possible for a Marine Patrol boat on Monday to use a side-scan sonar equipment to locate Benner's body so that it could be recovered.

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