OTISFIELD — Where were you during The Great Ice Storm of 1998?

On Thursday, Nov. 7, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Otisfield Community Hall, the Otisfield Historical Society will feature memories of the storm. But first, they need some help from those who experienced it.

“Fifteen years and nine months after the ice storm occurred, the Historical Society hopes to expand its knowledge of how this memorable event affected Otisfield in particular,” Jean Hankins of the Otisfield Historical Society said in an announcement. “We’ll talk about how folks got water, what they did to stay warm, how long the power outage lasted and how well neighbors helped each other.”

Hankins hopes that those willing to share their photos, written accounts or letters from that period will contact her in advance of the meeting so she can scan them for public display and possible permanent preservation in the society archives.

The storm was a combination of five successive ice storms which struck a narrow swath of land from Canada to central Maine in January 1998, killing more than 30 people and causing massive, long-term power outages and tree damage.

According to newspaper accounts at the time, Otisfield officials and citizens banded together to make sure everyone was safe. Spurrs Corner Fire Station was opened as an emergency shelter. At least 50 people came out, many with chain saws, to clear the roads of debris.


“Otisfield takes care of itself,” Road Commissioner Richard Bean Sr. said at the time.

It appears from written accounts that townwide efforts initially centered on making sure the elderly and those with medical challenges were taken care of.

Selectman Lenny Adler said he felt the town did a good job.

“No one in this town or in this state was prepared for this storm,” Adler said at the time. “It may never happen again in our lifetime, I hope.” 

Anyone with information to share may contact Hankins by email at jeanhankins@myfairpoint.net.

“We are hoping to preserve this important oral and pictorial history while folks’ memories are still fresh,” she said.


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