Beaches Begin Massive Cleanup
Coastal Floods Called Worst Since 1978
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, April 20, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Businesses and residents at Hampton and Seabrook beaches are starting the clean-up process in the aftermath of one of the worst storms for coastal flooding since the Blizzard of '78.
Waves were still crashing over the sea wall during high tide but the worst of the flooding appears to be over, according to Hampton safety officials who shut down the town's emergency operation center earlier Tuesday.
"We are now out of the woods," Deputy Fire Chief Steven Benotti said. "We will have some high tides but we don't expect to see what we did (on Monday) unless we get another nor'easter."
Monday morning's high tide brought 20- to 30-foot waves that flooded numerous homes and businesses at the beach, with some property owners reporting up to five feet of water gushing through their front doors.
While there were no injuries during the storm, there was a lot of property damage including the loss of several vehicles.
Cleanup has been ongoing on Ocean Boulevard, which remains littered with ocean debris including pebbles, football-sized rocks, sand and a handful of lobster traps.
"Our biggest goal right now is starting at the Hampton State Park and going north to pick up all the debris," park supervisor Brian Warburton said. "It's going to take time but we are working at it."
With five weeks to Memorial Day, Warburton said crews will be working overtime to get the beach back in shape including coming up with a plan to deal with erosion and repairing a sidewalk near Rocky Bend that was destroyed.
Hampton Beach Village District Commissioner Chuck Rage said while his business, the Pelham Hotel, didn't receive much flooding others such as the Sea Catch and the Boardwalk Cafe did.
"We seem to have a storm like this every year but we always seem to get it cleaned up and ready for the people who come to the beach," Rage said.
In Seabrook, Department of Public Works director John Starke said that while the town faced some unique challenges during potential flood situations, because of the ocean and marshes, the town "made out better than a lot of communities."
Hampton Police Capt. Richard Sawyer said officers may continue to block off parts of High Street and Ocean Boulevard periodically due to minor flooding during high tide.
"We know it's an inconvenience but we have to do it for safety," Sawyer said.
Fire personnel and the building inspectors from both towns spent the last couple of day assessing the storm's damage. No cost estimate was available by Thursday afternoon.