Record snows hit the USM campuses over the weekend as winter storm Nemo dropped over two and a half feet of snow in Portland and Gorham. Chris Legro with the National Weather Service in Gray reported that, although it was not a record snowfall for many areas of Maine, the Portland International Jetport received a record-beating 31.9 inches. Gorham received the highest snowfall in the state from Nemo with a total accumulation of almost 33 inches.
Despite record accumulation, there was little damage done by the storm in terms of outages or other issues on either USM campus. Though a prank involving a fire extinguisher did necessitate the evacuation of Gorham’s Upperclass Hall late Friday, no storm related issues arose over the weekend. “Thankfully, there were no power outages or emergencies,” said USM Director of Public Relations Bob Caswell.
Mariah Lary, a freshman psychology major, had first-hand experience with Nemo’s impact around her room in Gorham’s Upton Hastings Hall. “I almost got blown off my feet, and that was after the snow stopped falling,” she said. She said the wind kept blowing the snow around and the plow trucks had to run constantly. “Personally, I’m not a winter person, and this storm made me want to stay in my room until it all melts,” she said.
Dan Gearan is associate executive director for maintenance and operations for facilities management at USM and his office is responsible for much of the preparation involved in dealing with a storm like Nemo. He said they brought over staff from other departments and sought additional help from the contractors normally responsible for snow removal. “Unfortunately we have been short staffed in our Grounds Department recently because of some vacancies and staff on medical leave,” he said.
Facilities Management fueled and checked the generators owned by the school in addition to renting one to power Brooks Dining Hall. “Brooks is used as a refuge location for our resident students in case of a long term power outage,” he said. Gearan made sure to thank Jeff McKay, USM’s assistant director for grounds, for ensuring a smooth storm weekend at USM. “Jeff, his staff and his contractors have pulled off a heroic effort. They worked long hours and braved very difficult conditions to keep the walkways and roads passable. We are lucky to have such dedicated staff here at the university.”