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Bridgton family shares ice storm memories, 20 years later

Twenty years ago, a natural disaster hit, that Mainers will never forget. (WGME)

BRIDGTON (WGME) – Twenty years ago, a natural disaster hit, that Mainers will never forget.

The ice storm of 1998 left thousands in the dark.

The lakes region was hit particularly hard by the ice storm.

When the lights went out, residents relied on the few businesses open, for supplies.

Allen Hayes has vivid memories.

“You could just hear the trees with the weight of the ice and the snow just crackling,” Hayes said.

The details of each day are outlined in an album, created by his wife Leigh.

The Hayes family was in the dark, along with hundreds of thousands of other homes. As the co-owner of Hayes True Value Hardware Store, he knew not opening was not an option.

“We knew we had to band together and work in the dark pretty much,” Hayes said.

With no working cash register, employees used calculators to complete transactions.

“We did everything old school, we had pens and pencils and everything that we sold we had to write down,” Hayes said.

Customers walked the aisles with flashlights, looking for batteries, kerosene and generators.

Instead of using one of those generators to power the store, Hayes made sure they all went to homes in the area, and encouraged neighbors to share them.

Ned Allen is the executive director of the Bridgton Historical Society. He plans to create a collection of ice storm artifacts, including a copy of the album.

“The artifacts are important, but they're really only important in as much as they help to tell the story," Allen said.

Each family has its own story.

These memories, reminders of how many people in this community persevered.

Join us this Saturday for a CBS 13 and FOX 23 special event, Lights Out: Ice Storm ’98, 20 Years Later.

That's this Saturday at 7 p.m. on CBS 13 and FOX 23.

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