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Power restoration underway for nearly 21,000 Maine customers after heavy coastal rain, flooding

Power is being restored across Maine on Wednesday after a strong storm brought high winds and several inches of heavy snow and rain.

Central Maine Power is reporting just fewer than 7,000 outages as of 4 p.m. And nearly 14,000 Versant customers are without power.

Most outages were along the coast, where winds reached as high as 60-65 mph.

A spokesperson for CMP says crews were able to get an early start once the high winds subsided Wednesday morning in southern Maine. And the impacts from the heavy, wet snow that fell inland were not as bad as anticipated.

Versant Power spokesperson Judy Long says the high winds did not ease in eastern and northern Maine until midday. Before the storm, the utility had initially projected a multiday restoration effort for most customers.

"We're hopeful that perhaps we might be able to get restoration done more quickly than first anticipated," she says. "Thankfully those winds have died down. We have not seen as many outages as we feared could occur."

Both utilities say they're monitoring another storm that's expected to bring more rain and high winds late Friday and Saturday.

Much of Maine's coast experienced serious flooding Wednesday morning.

Jon Palmer, with the National Weather Service in Gray, says a spotter from Rockland called and said they had never seen flooding as severe as today.

"In addition, we're also seeing reports come in from South Portland and the Seacoast, as well. This is going to be a pretty serious coastal flooding event, for the entire coastline," he says.

The weather service says that large, damaging waves could lead to beach erosion, splash-over and damage to vulnerable homes and businesses.

But Maura Casey, with the National Weather Service in Gray, says that this storm is not expected to be as damaging as the high winds and rain of last month, as many parts of inland Maine are getting snow that should be able to absorb some of the rain instead of quickly melting and running off into rivers.

"So certainly not looking like a repeat of the last system back in December. And we're very grateful for that. Just some snow for the mountains, and some small-scale flooding south of the mountains," she says.

York County's melting snowpack, heavy rain, and storm surges Wednesday morning resulted in major tidal flooding in coastal communities.

Parts of Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport were impassable. Dock Square was shut down as water pooled around front doors and seeped into businesses.

Kennebunkport Deputy Police Chief Kurt Moses said in his 33 years in town he's never seen flooding this bad, and yet some people still tried to drive through it.

"People don't realize how easy it is to get their car flooded out and it causes EMS and everyone else to get them out of water. It always amazes me that people will drive through two to three feet of water,” Moses said.

Kennebunkport Select Board Vice Chair Allen Daggett said the area has been flooding for the last 10 to 15 years but it seems to be getting worse. Daggett said he worries about the future of the town's iconic waterfront.

"You can try and slow it up and do different things,” Daggett said. “I feel that maybe if it continues to get worse, the flooding, you might see the downtown change somewhat, maybe to another location."