BAR HARBOR — Gusty winds and heavy wet snow slammed Mount Desert Island on Sunday knocking out power to thousands and forcing the cancellation of school on Monday.
The decision to close all schools, even though some had electricity, was made after officials realized so many households were without power.
Heavy wet snow on limbs still sporting autumn foliage caused numerous trees to fall on power lines sparking transformer fires and blocking some roadways. Snow and sleet totals ranged from three inches in downtown Bar Harbor to twice that at higher elevations in the island’s interior.
All Acadia National Park motor roads were closed due to snow on Monday.
On Monday, Emera Maine was reporting 22,000 customers in Hancock County were without power, along with 25,000 in Penobscot County. Emera crews were joined by power crews from New Brunswick, Canada Monday morning, while crews from Nova Scotia are due to arrive Tuesday, according to company reports.
Emera’s live outage map shows widespread power failure on Mount Desert Island including Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Tremont, with restoration due as late as Tuesday night.
The power outage game played cat and mouse with islander residents with some getting electricity back only to have it go out again less than an hour later.
Bar Harbor police reported that around a half-dozen drivers slid off area roads during Sunday’s storm. There was one reportable crash with major damage, on Route 3 in Hulls Cove. The driver was unharmed.
Hancock County emergency management officials were reporting numerous roads closed due to downed trees. Closures on MDI included Bar Harbor- School Street in Bar Harbor, Whitney Farm Road in Mount Desert and a portion of the Seawall Road and Fernald Point Road in Southwest Harbor.
On Sunday, Gov. Paul LePage declared an emergency allowing power line repair crews to exempt themselves from rules limiting their work hours.
At the high point Emera Maine had a total of more than 58,000 customers without power in Hancock, Washington and Penobscot counties.
The Southwest Harbor Fire Station opened Monday as a shelter for people who need a place to get warm or to stay. The shelter will be open until power is restored. Emera is estimating some customers will be out until Wednesday. If people need transportation to the shelter they should call the Southwest Harbor dispatch at 244-7912.
Earlier Monday, the Bar Harbor Fire Department announced that anyone needing to get warm and escape powerless properties was welcome to stop by the fire station on Firefly Lane downtown. Call 288-5554.
Bar Harbor Fire officials are also warning people to be careful about carbon monoxide from generators or supplemental heating appliances that use gas or kerosene that do not vent directly outside. Do not use genereators in confined areas such as basements and garages.