NH Communites Continue Dealing With Irene Fallout: A Roundup

The cleanup process following Tropical Storm Irene continues across New Hampshire.  Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on across the state:

Betsy Devine / Flickr

Cleanup efforts continue across New Hampshire, but tallying the final cost is a long way away.

NHPR’s Dan Gorenstein reports most of the state’s electric companies have turned the lights back on, but…

“The state’s largest utility, PSNH still has tens of thousands without any service.
…Company spokesperson Mike Skelton says thankfully more help is on the way.

“We have crews joining us from Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, Michigan, New Jersey and we’ll continue to make those requests as we need more help, wherever we can get it.”

Skelton says New Hampshire’s Nashua and Manchester should have power fully restored by daybreak tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, NHPR reporter Elaine Grant found:

“…[F]looding along the Connecticut River in the Upper  Valley has caused what will likely be millions of dollars worth of damage to homes and businesses on both sides of the river. The storm’s effects could play out for several months.

Valley News Editor Jeff Good says in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, flood waters closed many stores.  ‘Route 12A in West Lebanon New Hampshire is kind of  the shopping district for the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont, and it got flooded. A lot of the shopping centers, some of the big department stores, were flooded and may not reopen for months, we’re told.’”

Another incredibly hard-hit area was the White Mountains, where major roads were closed.  The Union-Leader reports that both major east-west roads in the White Mountains are blocked to travelers.  Irene trashed the Route 302 bridge over the Sawyer River beyond hope of repair. The Kancamagus Highway is also heavily water-damaged along 13 different areas.  Reporters Sara Young-Knox and Lorna Colquhoun write:

“[I]t’s unknown when the Kancamagus will re-open.

The biggest trouble spot on the Kanc is about two miles from Lincoln Woods just above Otter Rocks, where floodwaters sheared off the entire eastbound lane.

The cut left guard rails dangling and a drop of more than 20 feet.

‘I am confident that some of that area, we can address. But there are a couple of shears that I am concerned about,’ said John Hilliard, the DOT maintenance supervisor in District 1.”

Meanwhile, NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports some of the heavier-trafficked areas of the White Mountains National Forest re-opened today.  Forest Service workers remain conservative, however, as they continue to assess damage and determine safe zones.  Over time, they hope to open more safe zones, and eventually move toward fully reopening the forest to visitors.  The agency is waiting for water levels to recede before it sends people out to assess the backcountry.

New Hampshire also got a mention from AP Energy Writer Chris Kahn.  He reports that the lights are slowly turning back on along the Eastern Seaboard.  But parts of New England, including New Hampshire, are still in the dark:

“Entire communities are still waiting for power. Eastham, Mass., on Cape Cod is still mostly cut off. In Wakefield, N.H., 70 percent of the town’s customers are off the grid. And nearly half of the 491,000 homes and businesses in the Richmond, Va., metro area are blacked out.”

One of the big questions that arises from this natural disaster is how much money will New Hampshire and other hard-hit states get in FEMA relief?  That’s a question that will be open for some weeks, especially given the current FEMA funding shortfall.

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