Fast-moving storm closes businesses, cancels events in Brunswick
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Fast-moving storm closes businesses, cancels events in Brunswick

Following a brief storm Tuesday evening, several fallen trees snapped power lines at Woodlawn Terrace in Brunswick. The terrace, which provides senior housing, was running on a generator during the outage. The Brunswick-Topsham Housing Authority, which owns the building, said no one was injured in the storm. Courtesy of Brunswick-Topsham Housing Authority

A rapidly spreading storm left hundreds of people without power for hours on Tuesday evening, closing businesses and shutting down events.

Hundreds of Central Maine Power customers in Brunswick were still without power Wednesday morning, but power was restored to all but a few customers by early afternoon. The storm downed trees and downed wires, closing several businesses near downtown Brunswick.

“It was a quick storm,” Fire Chief Ken Brillant said.

Brillant said power lines were down in two places on River Road and in one place on Stone Street. Although Stone Street is not a large road with many homes, he said, the lines in the road supply power to Woodlawn Terrace, a senior living facility owned by the Brunswick-Topsham Housing Authority.

John Hodge of the Brunswick-Topsham Housing Authority told The Times Record that Woodlawn Terrace, which has 41 units, is currently running on generator power as CMP works to restore power to the road. Hodge said all residents are OK.

Chief Brillant also reported a carbon monoxide buildup at a home in Brunswick, where the resident’s automatic generator had a power outage. No one was injured in that incident, he said.

Brillant said the generator’s air intake duct began to suck carbon monoxide into the house, causing carbon monoxide detectors to go off. He added that the generator was a safe distance away from the house, which is at least 5 feet, and yesterday’s outage conditions and heavy, humid air created a situation where the toxic gas could have entered the house.

“Amazing and devastating” series of failures

Yesterday’s storm left many businesses without power, causing significant financial losses for some and inconvenience to customers.

The Federal Hotel on Water Street lost power around 7 p.m. and was without power for six hours, according to hotel managing partner Gerard Kiladjian. Although he said there was no loss of product at the hotel’s restaurant, the business lost customers and, as a result, food prepared for the day.

“When you lose power in the summer, it’s a lot harder,” Kiladjian said, explaining that rooms can get warm without air conditioning running throughout the hotel. Fortunately, he said, no guests have left. He also acknowledged that power outages have been more frequent this year than in previous years at Brunswick.

Maine State Music Theatre (MSMT), which stages performances at the Pickard Theater on the campus of Bowdoin College, canceled its nearly sold-out evening performance of “Funny Girl,” rescheduling it for 8:30 p.m. in hopes that power would be restored in time.

MSMT reported that a crowd of viewers and workers were standing outside the theater at the time of the outage.

The outage was the second outage of the performance season, MSMT said in a press release. Performances of “South Pacific” scheduled for June 18 were canceled after Bowdoin College experienced an outage due to a transformer problem.

A Bowdoin College spokesman said the transformer failure that occurred June 18 was caused by a blown fuse caused by warm weather.

“The sheer and incredible coincidence that the theater lost power for the same Tuesday audience that was scheduled to see South Pacific and then three weeks later go on to see Funny Girl is mind-boggling and devastating to all of us here at Maine State Music Theatre,” said Curt Dale Clark, MSMT Artistic Director. “Our inability to bring this audience to the show due to the limited number of tickets available is heartbreaking — because unfortunately the schedule is inflexible and we cannot extend it to include White Christmas “The opening is scheduled for July 17.”

Clark estimated the theater will lose about $75,000 on each of the three canceled shows due to power outages, one on Tuesday and two on June 18. He said the total amount, about $225,000, represents about 5% to 6% of the organization’s total annual budget of $8 million.

Of the 400 or more subscribers affected by Tuesday’s outage, about 170 will be able to buy tickets to another showing of “Funny Girl” before it closes. About 145 other people who were in the audience Tuesday bought individual tickets and will get refunds.

“These were the exact same people (at Tuesday’s screening) who lost ‘South Pacific.’ I walked around the theater and saw the looks of utter disappointment on people’s faces,” Clark said. “I take my responsibility to my subscribers very seriously. They’re the main reason we’ve survived all these years. I owe them these shows.”

Clark said some subscribers who were unable to transfer to another performance of the canceled show offered to donate their money back to MSMT.

Clark added that the power outages he has experienced this season are more frequent than any he has experienced throughout his 18-year career at MSMT, and that they have negatively impacted the theater’s financial situation.

MSMT announced that those planning to go to the cancelled performance this week will be notified by the ticket office.

This article was contributed by Paul Bagnall of The Times Record and Ray Routhier of the Press Herald.