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Ice storm took firefighter's leg, but not his spirit

The Ice Storm of 1998 spared no one, not even first responders like volunteer firefighter James Gerry. (WGME)

CASCO (WGME) – Twenty years ago this week, the Ice Storm of 1998 brought Maine to its knees.

People were in the dark for weeks, and the effects were felt long after the storm hit.

The Ice Storm of 1998 spared no one, not even first responders like volunteer firefighter James Gerry.

“Our house was out of power for 16 days I believe,” Gerry said.

The18-year-old senior at Gray-New Gloucester High School was ready for his last season running track, but the ice storm would change those plans.

“It was a lot of adjustments, but overall it's amazing the technology that's out there with prosthetic limbs,” Gerry said.

Gerry lost his leg in an accident a week into the storm.

He was pumping gas on Route 302 in Raymond, when a 16-year-old driver lost control in the icy parking lot.

“I put one foot up, but I wasn't quick enough,” Gerry said.

His leg was pinned.

“Everything else from there was kind of a blur,” Gerry said.

Gerry says he lost so much blood, his vision blurred, but then he heard some familiar voices.

“I knew both paramedics on the ambulance,” Gerry said. “The driver of the ambulance knew me since birth.”

They were part of the Raymond Fire Department, where a teenage Gerry was a volunteer firefighter.

“Thankfully, it was a little easier for me, knowing who was taking care of me,” Gerry said. “I had all the faith in the world in them.”

The Raymond fire chief went to see Gerry at the ER, when he'd already made the decision to amputate his leg.

“That's one of the things I remember asking him, 'Can I still be a fireman?’ and he said 'absolutely,' Gerry said.

Twenty years later, the ice storm took his leg, but not his passion for service.

“It's part of my daily life,” Gerry said. “And I don't let it define me. I define it.”

Join us this Saturday, for a special 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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