Twenty-five years ago, the rain began in what would become the 1998 ice storm that eventually left millions of Quebecers in the dark, some for over a month.

It was one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history, and many still have vivid memories of those cold and difficult days and nights.

"All of these trees were broken, smashed, and it was just a solid sea of brush," said Gregg Edwards, who owns a plot of land in Havelock, Que. where some of his sugar bushes are finally starting to fill in.

Edwards rents the land for maple syrup production and remembers when the freezing rain finally stopped.

The trees, he said, looked like toothpicks, and the cleanup took years.

In nearby Hemmingford, Que., several inches of ice covered Tim Petch's apple trees.

Throughout his orchard, branches were breaking from the weight of the ice.

"It just sounded like gunshots, it would echo off the ice on the ground, and the branches would shatter on the ground on the ice," he said. "It just sounded like gunshots or cannons going off in the field."

The weather on Jan. 4, 1998 didn't seem like much at first, beginning with mild temperatures and drizzle. Soon, however, the rain began to freeze and continued with back-to-back ice storms lasting nearly a week.

The weight of the ice that accumulated didn't just affect trees, with it toppling 1,000 hydro towers and destroying 17,000 Hydro-Quebec utility poles.

Hydro towers toppled

Many were left in the cold and dark for weeks, and, at its peak, half of Quebec was without power.

About 600,000 people had to leave their homes, and many wound up in shelters that were set up across the province.

Woman helped during ice storm

The area that became known as the "Triangle of Darkness," between Saint-Hyacinthe, Granby and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, was especially hard hit.

Other rural areas near the Canada/U.S. border were also hard hit, including the Monteregie.

Petch's town of Hemmingford was without power for 29 days. His family weathered the storm with their wood stove and generator.

"We kept warm and close and made sure there wasn't a buildup on the roof," he said.

He remembers how difficult it was to explain the situation to his young children.

"All I remember them saying whenever they asked for something, they always said 'no power right, no power right?'" said Petch.

House during ice storm

Edwards' home was without electricity for 44 days.

"It wasn't just dark; it was black," he said. "Nobody had lights. Any way you looked, it was black. Haunting. No traffic, and people were totally and completely alone."

The military was eventually called in to help, as by day five, Montreal had also plunged into darkness.

Soldiers during the ice storm

There was no evacuation plan for the city, and, as the bridges became coated in hundreds of tonnes of ice, they were closed as crews worked to de-ice them.

Those in the countryside were trying to stay warm, while also working to save their livestock and crops.

Petch received a generator from the Ministry of Agriculture to keep his stored fruit from going bad.

"Luckily, we had the generators hooked up in no time and were able to keep the coolers running and keep the apples safe," he said.

Man of his trees, however, weren't so lucky, and he lost upwards of 35 per cent of their fruiting branches.

"It was total and complete devastation," said Edwards.

The storm was a massive blow to the region's maple syrup industry.

"The following year, many sugar bushes were closed down because people could not get in," he said.

The experience, however, also brought some good.

"The community pulled together very well," said Petch. "We had volunteers that brought wood to homes that only had a wood stove, brought around food baskets to the elderly."

When it was over, the storm claimed 30 lives and cost Quebec over $3 billion.

In addition, more than a few people now get nervous whenever the lights go out.

"I think that everybody in the rural community, when the power goes out, has a flashback, January 4, 1998 is returning," said Edwards.

"It was a hard thing to ever forget, and, hopefully, we'll never go through it again," said Petch.