Versant crews repair damage to power lines along Bennoch Road in Orono after a Tuesday afternoon thunderstorm. Credit: Nina Mahaleris / Penobscot Times

ORONO, Maine — A midday thunderstorm knocked down a tree onto two utility poles along Bennoch Road, causing a widespread power outage in Orono and Old Town on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

More than 3,000 households were without power Tuesday afternoon after the storm, Versant Power reported around 4 p.m. There were no reported outages in the area as of Wednesday morning, according to the company’s live outage map. 

Tom and Gail Bickford came home that evening to find the massive eastern cottonwood tree that stood in their yard for at least 100 years — knocked to the ground just a few feet away from their front porch.  

The Bickfords — who have lived at 167 Bennoch Road for 20 years — said the tree was believed to be the second largest eastern cottonwood in Maine, which had been measured in the last couple years. 

The couple, along with a few neighbors, watched from across the street behind piles of fallen branches as crews repaired the damaged lines Tuesday evening. Traffic on Bennoch Road was partially blocked for a few hours. 

This is the fourth time in the past two weeks that damaged utility equipment has caused a significant outage in the Orono and Old Town areas. 

After the third outage was reported last week, Versant Power announced a plan to install protection equipment in the Old Town and Orono areas to limit the frequency of large outages in the future.