A man looks at damage from a downed tree in Lewiston during the Ice Storm of 1998. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“Like most folks, my wife and I didn’t know what to expect when we heard a big storm was coming, but we didn’t expect so much ice. We had a nice house on Sunderland Drive in Auburn and there was a wood stove in the basement and a great fireplace in the big room on the first floor. What I didn’t expect was the sound of tree limbs breaking from a lot of the big trees I had on the property around the house.

“. . . I said to my wife, ‘Let’s make the best of this’ and we did. A good neighbor brought over some banana bread – I had never heard of banana bread – and a package of hot dogs, so I said, ‘Let’s eat.’ I have a photo of my wife kneeling in front of the fireplace that had a nice fire going and she’s holding a hot dog in a metal coat hanger I made to hold the dog. (I) went outside to get some ice for the drinks and by golly, somehow that felt romantic for the two aging occupants.”

– Roger L. Bouvier, Auburn


“A blessing we have a wood stove in the kitchen where I made meals out of the freezer. The home is surrounded by many tall oak trees (and) heavy, iced branches were crashing down around us. . . . Seven nervous victims huddled in (my home). We survived, ate well, did not sleep well and had a few laughs to remember. Panicky laughs, I might say.”

– Barbara Dalgaard, Harrison



“We had driven to NYC with our two then-young children to go to a baby-naming ceremony for our baby niece. The drive back home was a nine-hour-long, white-knuckle creep, with both kids getting terribly car sick. Miserable!”

– Julie Boesky, Denmark


“No school. Board games. And most memorable and unique of all: ice skating on my front lawn because the ice was so thick. It was great as a 10-year-old, but as an adult I’m sure it was mostly stress and frustrations.”

– Sam Madore, Turner



“I was 18 and it was my senior year at Lewiston High School. We had just gotten back from winter break and we had, I think, three days of school before it was canceled again due to the storm for about two more weeks. I was working at Shaw’s in the bakery, and they kept regular hours throughout. My sister and nephews were staying at my house with my mom because (my) sister lived in a trailer in Greene and did not have power.

“We didn’t have power either but had a kerosene heater. . . . I had my license and a car, so I worked, went fishing, stayed in an ice fishing shack on a lake and washed at friends’ houses. We were out of power for a few days where we were, but it was longer for my sister. At least we had TV, hot water and heat back.”

– Allisa Glasscock, Lewiston


“I had a baby at the time but also worked at a grocery store in Mechanic Falls. People (who) were going mad trying to get food and milk was the biggest thing. Luckily, my boss had put (some) aside for me, but (as I was) walking out people (were) offering me mad money for them. I also ended up leaving (Mechanic Falls) and driving to Westbrook where a family friend had power. We had to turn around and take different directions so many times. And the trees and ice were pulled down so low they were almost touching your car. . . . It was definitely a memorable storm, for sure.”


– Pauline Clark, Lewiston


“I was living alone in Bethel at the time, on the second floor of a two-family house in the village. The power was off for 14 days. It took a while for the gravity of the situation to sink in. At first, I worried mostly about the three birch trees in the yard, which were bowed and anchored to the ground by the ice. . . . The weather was eerie and depressing, not the wonderful clear blue skies that winter can deliver, but day after day of gray skies, with temperatures just below freezing and no sun. . . . One of the things I remember is how much I missed hot water. It was cold, so I needed hot food and beverages, but the only thing I had that would produce hot water was a fondue pot and Sterno containers.

“. . . The other thing I remember was being bored. I didn’t have a TV anyway so I didn’t miss that, but reading and writing were stationary activities that I could only do for so long, even wrapped up. Then I would need to move around – but doing what? I couldn’t cook or run the vac and the streets were too treacherous for walking. Sometimes I would get into the car and just drive around town running the heater and luxuriating in the warmth. Half the town never lost power, so I would stop off at the gas station in town and buy a small miracle of hot chocolate.”

– Kathy Hooke, Portland



“(I remember) being in the health care field (as) a radiologic technologist (and) realizing that for a period of time there were no operating CAT scanners in the entire state of Maine. Then going to the old-time way of using portable X-ray machines – thanks to emergency power – and hand developing X-rays to care for our patients. Many long days, for sure.”

– Johanna Dumas, Lewiston


“We lived in Lisbon Falls and (the storm) started with rain.  . . . When the water started to freeze, the weight broke branches from trees and it sounded like gunshots. Trees, branches and wires were on the ground everywhere on Ridge Road. The worst was the power outage. It was several days of subzero temperatures and no heat! Wore hats gloves, coats, etc., and lots of candles. It was so cold!”

– Donna Ferro, Niagara Falls



“I woke up the (morning of Jan. 8) to the dogs barking. What had them all fired up? Let them out and it sounded like gunshots in the woods, yet it was January and not hunting season by any stretch. After listening for a while and looking around I figured out it was branches/limbs breaking off trees in the woods. Everything had a heavy coating of ice on it! Bushes were bent over, as were trees! We had lost power at 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 8. A state of emergency was in effect, according to the radio. The roads were barely wide enough for one car to pass.

“… (On) Friday, Jan. 16, we got nine inches of new snow. Nadine Drapeau, a CMP worker, showed up at my door and asked if I could provide seating for a power crew for lunch. We hosted 10 guys from Narragansett Power for a pizza lunch provided by CMP. The guys were so appreciative of being in a warm house for a while. They were awesome.”

– Marilyn Strout, Otisfield


“I mostly remember coming together as a neighborhood to ensure everyone was OK and sharing meals with our neighbors as well. Whoever had something thawing that needed to be eaten we would add that to the meal and share all around. Those of us with a wood stove were able to cook basic meals and then those with a generator would brew the always–important coffee and share. A definite sense of togetherness and closeness of family to work together to get through it and help who needed some help.”

– Alison Jacobs, Lewiston



“What I remember the most was the total silence. No cars on the road. The only sound was of the trees behind our house crashing down under the weight of the ice.

“My husband and I had saved up money (back then it was hard to do) to buy a half side of beef, then boom no power! We thought “Oh no!” We put some outside in coolers to save our investment.

We had a kerosene lantern and a Coleman camping stove. We had some great meals of T-bone steaks and rib-eyes for supper by the light of that kerosene lantern. We lost power for five days but managed to keep all that expensive meat!”

— Diane Nadeau, Andover



“I remember huddling up by our gas fireplace and listening to the news and what I believe were TV shows on the radio. Our house was on a small circuit and in our neighborhood was one of the last three houses to be restored after 13 days or so. I recall going for walks at night with my father and realizing how bright the sky was at night without there being any lights/streetlights. Lastly, how practicing for hockey became a full family affair because the rink had power and heat. Also, most used the locker room showers that had individual stalls.”

– Joseph Philippon, Lewiston


“I remember my parents, sister and I camping in our kitchen where there was a wood stove. I was a junior at Jay High School at the time and after a few days of not showering because of the lack of power, I put on my old cross-country skis and skied across town to my girlfriend’s house. They had a generator and hot water. That was one of my most memorable skis with the sound of the trees cracking and being able to ski down the middle of roads.”

– Justin Easter, Vienna



“I was one of the lucky ones. Only lost power for about 32 hours. I live in Lewiston, just off Sabattus Street. My most vivid memory was a friend who lives in Auburn on Court Street had power. He said I was more than welcome to spend the night in his house that had full power. I alerted my across-the-street neighbor of my intentions and gave him the number of my buddy and (asked him) to call if by any chance power came back.

“So, I start the drive to my friend’s house. I get to the end of my street, I glance over to the house on the corner of my street and I notice the porch light was on and lit. Did not think that much about it at the time. Got to my destination on Court Street (and) my buddy informs me (that my neighbor called to say) ‘You have power!’ Three words that I loved to hear. … The biggest joy my furnace was running! I had heat! It was about a 32-hour ordeal. I was very lucky as others were without power for weeks.”

– Steve Stantial, Lewiston


Linda Therriault’s yard in Sabattus is encased in ice in January 1998. Submitted photo

“We lost power for seven days. Once the sun came back out, we all put our snowmobile helmets on when we went outside because of the falling ice. I would spend the nights at my mother’s house with my son while my husband stayed at our house with the dogs. A friend of ours would come over in the evening with his generator and let us use it while we warmed up the house. I hope we never have to go through that again.”

– Linda Therriault, Sabattus



“I called the ice storm of ’98 ‘The Crystal Monster.’ As a station department employee for CMP, I was able to watch the monster grow under perfect weather conditions. The temperature stayed below freezing with a light drizzle that lasted for days. This (was) why the monster was able to dismantle our distribution system but left the high voltage transmission system and substations mainly intact.

“It was an eerie feeling to be out at night and hear the sounds of tree branches and limbs crashing down. When the weather cleared after a few days, the sun shining on and through that coating of ice crystals was beautiful. A memory that has lasted was one morning going to work at 4 a.m. after an underground cable that connected two of the substations that supply power to the city of Lewiston failed. Auburn was dark, as well as the surrounding towns. There was no glow of lights anywhere. Really surreal.”

– Paul Timberlake, Lewiston


“My husband and I built our house in 1989 on the land on the south side of Noyes Mountain in Greenwood off the Richardson Hollow Road. Our house was facing the south and we would watch the storms coming at us.


“We watched the ice storm coming at us and heard the trees thump to the ground. . . . After the storm there were small trees bent over the road to the house. These were all along the Richardson Hollow Road to West Paris. We lost our power but we had a wood stove and cooked on that. We also had water as it ran into the basement and had a faucet.

“I was afraid we would lose everything in the refrigerator. I had a couple Styrofoam boxes, so I put the food out in the snow and covered them with snow. I thought everything would be fine but the raccoons found it during the night.

“We were able to get to town by this time. . . . We watched CMP coming up the Norway Road (and) they were doing a good job and we were back on schedule before long.

“One thing that interested me was right after the storm, we had a red-headed woodpecker come to the broken trees. They left after a couple days and I never saw them again.”

— Mary E. Perham, Greenwood



“I lived in Lewiston at the time. There was no power to gas stations. CMMC was running on generators and letting people come into warm up.

“Davinci’s Eatery restaurant wasn’t in business too long at that time. We use to go to the original spot and the owner, Jules Patry, was always around to say hi. When the ice storm hit, that tiny block never lost their power. He would let people come in to warm up, play cards, etc. – just very sincere and kind! Plus they were still able to make great meals. I just thought that was the kindest thing someone could do! His business has moved to a bigger building at 150 Mill St. in Lewiston due to all his customers. I’m not sure of the old address, but you had to go over a divider-type bridge to get to his business.

“As hard as the ice storm was, people like Jules Patry made the day quite nice.

“Thank you for being interested in stories of the ’98 ice storm.”

— Jan Barker, Hebron



Throughout the storm I took notes of all that occurred. I discovered the notes several years later, tucked away in my desk. At 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 12, 2014, I wrote this:

“Recollections of the Ice Storm of ‘98 by Becky Pelletier, Fayette, Me 04349

“Above all else my artist’ eye saw the beauty of my world encased in ice. As I looked off into the distance, the landscape before me was the color of diluted skim milk. A sharp crack refocused my attention with stark reality. For days, sounds like gunshots reverberated through the woods and echoed across the hills and valleys. At one time, the sounds came every fifteen seconds as the trees succumbed to the weight of the ice.

“Day after dreary day the incessant raindrops fell from the sky . . . drops that froze in place and made objects appear to weep in despair. The ice cover — two inches, three inches, four and more — built up. The weatherman said, “This is the stuff that brings down barns.” For the first time I felt fear.

“Schools were canceled for days on end and many businesses were closed because there was no electricity. Our power was out for 10 days but we were luckier than most. We had a gas stove, wood heat and a generator.

“My husband went to Moose Hill and brought my 83 year old mother back here, while my sister Stephanie chose to remain on the hill. Mama spent her days in a rocking chair by the kitchen window and watched the birds at the feeders while she crocheted an afghan for my granddaughter, Casey’s, 16th birthday. At night she slept on the couch. When she walked around the house, her oxygen tube trailed behind her as she went from room to room. She was oblivious to the fact that the tube rested on hot floor registers or close to the kitchen wood stove. I had to be vigilant when she was on the move!


“I ran a soup kitchen for up to 17 people. Neighbors gathered here at 4 o’clock on the first afternoon, but four o’clock was too late as it was dark when they returned to their darkened homes. I changed serving time to two o’clock which worked well for everyone. Women arrived in the late morning with food that had thawed in their freezers. From day to day we didn’t know what would be on the menu but we ate well and encouraged one another during our cooking sessions.

“At long last the rain stopped. My world was breathtaking as it sparkled in the sun’s brilliance. An icicle on the maple tree became a prism and colors of the rainbow flashed across the lawn and into my kitchen. With the iridescent beauty came more destruction as the ice melted. It fell in chunks from the trees and brought twigs and branches with it. The fresh, exposed wood was in sharp contrast to the muted, gray hillsides and the damage was visible wherever one looked. Birch and pine trees bent to the ground and suffered much damage. The devastation was catastrophic.

“Spring finally arrived. Splintered trees were everywhere. The bent birches and pines and the hardwood trees were pitiful remnants of once stately giants.

“Towns hired loggers with their trucks to pick up trees branches and brush that homeowners hauled to the roadside. We lost hundreds of trees around the field and in the woods. Once the ground was firm enough to drive one, I took our pickup and began the overwhelming task of cleaning up. I had a pile of debris at least eight feet high that stretched from the stop sign at the end of our road all the way up to our garage. Weeks later, we hired LeBlanc brothers to help as we prepared for our annual bluegrass party in July. Bluegrass friends Emery Thompson and Wally Tripp helped clean up the last of the mess in the backyard.

“At the time I wrote this in 2014 the damage from the ice storm of ’98 was still evident in the woods and along the rural roads. Many hardwood trees without crowns continued to live on but the remains of those that didn’t are a somber reminder of the time when northern New England, upstate New York and parts of the Canadian provinces were covered with ice.”

— Becky Pelletier, Fayette 

Responses were edited for length and clarity.

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