Red Cross :: Red Cross responds to double disaster in Maine

“About 11:00 o?clock on Wednesday night there were three loud explosions outside my house, and I looked out and saw flaming wires falling to the ground,? said Carolyn Keith. ?Then all the lights went out all up and down Ferry Street where I live, and I lost power at my house too.?

Keith, 86, was one of 117,000 Central Maine Power customers in Maine who lost their power following an April winter storm that dumped almost two feet of snow in some areas of the state.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm was Maine?s fifth-biggest 24-hour April snowstorm in 126 years of record keeping. Heavy, wet snow broke trees that cut power lines and exploded transformers. Not since the historic ice storm of 1998 were so many electric customers affected.

?I live alone, and it was pretty cold and dismal just sitting in my house,? Keith continued. ?My driveway was covered in snow and there were fallen wires everywhere, so I couldn?t drive anywhere. I have a flashlight and a candle, but that?s about all.?

A neighbor from across the street, George Stratchko, checked on Keith and found her cold and hungry. He drove her to the American Red Cross shelter at the Saco Community Center to warm up and get a hot meal.

The Red Cross in Maine is used to winter storms and emergencies like this, and staff and volunteers are well trained to react quickly to provide disaster relief. The Red Cross opened five shelters in York County, Maine, hard-hit by the winter storm and power outages. Some people came in to warm up and get a hot meal while others stayed overnight, hoping that power would be restored to their homes in a day or two. Little did they and their Red Cross hosts know that a second disaster was about to hit on top of the winter storm disaster.

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