Crews scramble to restore power to Northeast after storm

Robert F. Bukaty
Lights from automobile traffic leave trails on a street in Freeport, Maine, where most outlet shopping stores are closed due to a severe storm knocked out electricity, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. The severe storm packing hurricane-force wind gusts and soaking rain swept through the Northeast early Monday, knocking out power for nearly 1.5 million homes and businesses and forcing hundreds of schools to close in New England. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Utility crews scrambled to restore power throughout New England on Tuesday, one day after a severe storm packing hurricane-force wind gusts and torrential rain left more than a million customers without electricity and forced communities to postpone Halloween festivities due to damage.

The storm knocked out power to nearly 1.5 million homes and business at its peak Monday across the region. More than 840,000 customers remained in the dark Tuesday morning.

A house was swept away by raging waters in New Hampshire, sailboats crashed onto a beach in Massachusetts and an empty scaffolding truck was blown off of a bridge that’s under construction between Maine and New Hampshire.

Thousands of trees were toppled, some falling onto houses and cars.

“Trees were falling all around me. I could hear them crashing down,” said John Carroll, spokesman for Central Maine Power, describing his commute to work Monday. “It was terrifying. It was wild.”

Miraculously, no serious injuries were reported.

New England bore the brunt of the storm with winds gusting to 82 mph in Mashpee on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and topping out at 130 mph at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire.

Nearly 500,000 homes and businesses in Maine lost electricity, surpassing the peak number from an infamous 1998 ice storm. Officials said the storm left 450,000 customers in New Hampshire without power at its peak and produced wind gusts of 78 mph.

In Warren, New Hampshire, dramatic video captured a one-story house being swept away by a raging river before crashing into a bridge and breaking apart. No one was in the house at the time.

Some cities and towns in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut postponed trick-or-treating from Halloween night — Tuesday — to as late as Sunday evening due to safety concerns including darkened streets, downed power lines and debris.

Electricity was slowly being restored. But in Maine, the state’s largest utility warned residents to be prepared to be without electricity for up to a week.

Rachel Graham, her husband and their 2-year-old daughter endured the storm in a yurt where they are staying while they build a house on their property in Freeport, Maine. They listened as 20 pine trees snapped and wind gusts lashed the yurt.

“You could feel everything and hear everything,” Graham said. “It was a lot of crashes and bangs.”

In the Boston suburb of Brookline, Helene Dunlap said her power went out after she heard a loud “kaboom” early Monday morning. She went outside hours later to find a large tree had fallen on a neighboring home.

“It really shook the whole place up,” she said. “It was such a dark, stormy night that looking out the window we really couldn’t determine what was going on.”

A tree fell and sheared off the rear of a home in Methuen in northeastern Massachusetts, along the New Hampshire line. The tree crashed into Philip Cole’s bedroom, where he would have been if he hadn’t been called into work Sunday night.

“You opened the door to my bedroom, and there’s no bedroom,” Cole told WBZ-TV. “There’s no floor, there’s no anything really, just a closet and that was it.”

The storm system also caused problems Sunday in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. On the shoreline in Bayonne, New Jersey, a barge washed up after apparently breaking free from its moorings.

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