It was, literally, something you had to see to believe.  Pictures.  Videos.  Nothing could quite fully do it justice like seeing it in person.  Everything covered in inches of ice.  Almost enchanting.  It hypnotized you.  It was a 'beautiful disaster'.

I was only 18 years old.  Perhaps, too young to fully grasp the devastation around me.  Standing outside, everywhere, power lines were being pulled down by the immense weight, some broken altogether, from the ice.  In the distance, the only thing you could hear were the trees breaking...like the sound of gunshots.

The Great Ice Storm of 1998 was the result of 5 storm systems combining and bringing more than 80 hours (January 5th - January 10th) of steady freezing rain.

The storm spread across New York, Canada and New England.   Hundreds of thousands of CMP customers, in Maine,  were without power.  Some for days...some for months.  Generators and space heaters were no where to be found and when a shipment was expected...hundreds waited in line, like Black Friday, in hopes to get their hands on something, anything, to warm up their houses.  People were trapped in their homes by downed trees blocking the roads.

According to Maine.Gov
The Ice Storm’s impacts were far-reaching:

  • Over half of the state’s population out of power, some for well over two weeks
  • Schools, business, transportation systems and government disrupted
  • All sixteen Maine Counties declared federal disaster areas
  • An unprecedented activation of the Maine National Guard
  • Six deaths
  • Radio communication systems knocked out
  • $48 million in FEMA-eligible costs to state, county and local governments and infrastructure
  • $6.5 million in grants and loans to individuals and businesses
  • Damages to public utilities, to forestry, to private property and industry, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

One thing that always stands out to me when I remember this storm.  It was how the people & communities pulled together.  Everyone was willing to help everyone.  Neighbors helping neighbors.  I'm both humble and bothered, it shouldn't take a catastrophe to bring us together.  This should be an everyday occurrence.

In the video below, several line crews enter Maine to help restore power: