PORTLAND, Maine — The powerful storm that was once Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc more than 300 miles from where it made landfall, shutting down the port of Portland, scaring away several cruise ships and leaving tens of thousands of Maine homes and businesses without power early Tuesday.
The storm pounded Maine's southern coast for several hours Monday evening with wind gusts of 63 mph in Portland and 76 mph in Bath, according to the National Weather Service.
Lobsterman Pat White said those who make their living on the water didn't know what to make of Sandy, which combined with two other storm systems to create a hybrid storm, causing wind action that's unfamiliar to Maine fishermen.
"We're in uncharted territory," said White, noting that the wind on the storm's backside was the opposite of what fishermen are accustomed to seeing. "It's going to be like a washing machine out there."
Gov. Paul LePage signed an emergency declaration on Monday, and the port took the unusual step of closing because of strong winds.
With the worst of the storm over Tuesday morning, more than 90,000 homes and businesses, mostly in southern Maine, were in the dark. Canadian utility crews were on loan and ready to assist with power restoration efforts.
Dozens of schools, primarily in southern Maine, and the University of New England canceled classes Tuesday.
In Bar Harbor, a 50-foot work barge with a crane was discovered sunk in the harbor Tuesday morning, said harbor master Charlie Phippen. The barge, which was moored, apparently took on water overnight and flooded before sinking, he said.
Rain and gusting winds were expected to continue Tuesday and into Wednesday as the remnants of the storm make their way across the state, the National Weather Service said. A flood warning was issued for the Swift River in the western Maine town of Roxbury.
Central Maine Power reported more than 88,000 outages, while Bangor Hydro Electric Co. reported more than 3,000. Some customers will be without electricity for an extended period of time while crews restore power.
"We know it'll be multiple days," CMP spokesman John Carroll said.
There were no mandatory evacuations, but the town of Wells urged people to leave their homes and businesses along coastal and low-lying areas.
Two shelters were set up, in Buxton and Bridgton. Maine National Guard troops were on standby in the event they were needed in Maine or elsewhere in New England.
In Kennebunk, the surf, projected to reach 15 to 20 feet, crashed over the rocky shore, showering a seaside road with rocks and dousing the occasional bystander with seawater. A couple hundred yards away, a dozen thrill-seeking surfers took advantage of the high surf to get in some late-season rides.
Several cruise ships canceled planned stops Monday and Tuesday in Portland and Bar Harbor, and several cargo ships and tankers destined for Portland chose to stay in anchorage far offshore, said Lt. Nick Barrow, spokesman for the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard reopened the ports of Portland and Portsmouth, N.H., to normal operations on Tuesday morning after crews assessed them and found no signs of damage or hazardous conditions, he said.
Most flights were canceled at Portland International Jetport and Bangor International Airport on Monday and Tuesday. Amtrak's Downeaster canceled several runs between Portland and Boston.
While the wind was a major problem in southern Maine, the rainfall wasn't expected to be especially heavy, with only 1 to 3 inches, officials said.Comment on this story
Maine had plenty of time to prepare, and lobstermen either pulled their traps from the water or moved their traps farther offshore ahead of the storm.
Most fishermen do what they can to protect their investment, while some will leave their traps in waters where they may be lost or battered, said Greg Turner of Scarborough, who moved his traps to waters 150 to 180 feet deep. At $80 to $100 per trap, losing traps in a storm can be an expensive venture.
"Some people may have a different outlook than I do and take a chance," he said. "They may get away with it and they may not. You won't know until after the storm."
Associated Press Writer Clarke Canfield contributed to this report.