At Nature's Mercy

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Area Hit By Worst Rain In A Decade

By Susan Morse and Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, May 16, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
A resident of Taylor River Estates in Hampton returns to his flooded home Monday morning. [Photo by Jamie Cohen]

HAMPTON -- Rain, rain and more rain fell across the region this weekend, flooding roads, basements and closing schools.

The wet weather system is expected to stick around until today, when it will be followed by, more rain.

"There’s still more rain coming in for tonight and tomorrow morning," said meteorologist Steve Capriola on Monday.

Capriola works for the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

"After that, we’ll have scattered showers," he said. "It will still be unsettled weather, but this consistent stagnant pattern should break down and move out on Tuesday. The worst should be over.

"I don’t know if we (broke) records," Capriola said. "We had 12.45 inches as of 10:15 a.m. (Monday), going back to Friday, maybe even a few days before."

The flooding experienced in the Seacoast was all due to rain, and was not tidal, Capriola said.

Roads flooded at ponds, rivers and streams.

Fire Chief Hank Lipe of the Hampton Fire Department said Monday morning the station had received 74 calls within 24 hours from residents.

Those calls related to furnace problems, water heater issues and sump pump problems.

The two toughest hit areas in Hampton were the Taylor River Estates and Gentian Road because of the flooding of Meadow Pond.

A voluntary evacuation was issued to residents who live at the Taylor River Estates, off Towle Farm Road after water started cresting over the Taylor River on Sunday night.

"Everyone has been evacuated and there is some serious property damage down there," Lipe said.

Lipe said the department had several requests for shelters Sunday night.

"The Red Cross had a crew ready to open up a shelter, but when we called the people who were going to use it they wanted no part in it," Lipe said.

Several roads in Hampton have been closed because of flooding, including North Shore Road, Niles Brook, High Street and Towle Farm Road.

High Street was blocked off from Old Grist Mill because of flooding from the Mill Pond.

Water was pouring under the mill onto High Street and into the marsh. Crews from the Department of Public Works have been working in the area putting up sandbags and diverting the water.

"How the Grist Mill is still standing, I don’t know," said John Hangen, director of the Department of Public Works.

Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said the department responded to 107 calls of service over the weekend.

"About 44 of them were flood related," Sullivan said.

The department has been busy providing road blocks, responding to accidents and assisting the fire and public works departments.

"The biggest thing we are dealing with is disputes between neighbors who are pumping the water out of their basement without any regard to where it’s going," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said police are asking people to stay off roads with standing water.

"We are asking people to stay off the roads that are covered with water," Sullivan said. "Don’t cross through because you do not know the depth of the water. Follow detours and road closures."

Seabrook had several streets closed on Sunday, which were all reopened on Monday, according to police dispatcher Mike Felch. Road closings included Mill Lane, Centennial Street, Plymouth Street, New Zealand Road and Route 1 by Cains Brook.

Seabrook had no forced evacuations.

The road closings hindered no emergency crews, Fire Chief Jeff Brown said.

"We had no problems getting ambulances out," he said. "The biggest problem is with people’s basements flooding. We’ve told people, if the water comes over the burner for the furnace, kill the emergency switch."

If left on, the furnace will click with no ignition, causing an electrical hazard in the water.

Another danger is the electric panel in the basement. In at least six homes in Seabrook, the water has come up to the panel.

"We’ve called Unitil," Brown said. "They’ve pulled the meter off the house, it kills the power. Don’t do it yourself. Call us, we’ll have electric company do it."

As of Monday afternoon, six families and Seabrook were forced from their homes. Those families found shelter with friends or family, Brown said. But the Seabrook Recreation Center stands ready in case people need shelter, the chief said.

Brown spent most of Sunday night checking on roads.

"On Lakeshore Drive, at one point, it was very precarious, about a foot of water," he said.

In Hampton Falls, Route 1 at Whittier Pond was closed to all traffic. Police Chief Robbie Dirsa estimated the water was 2-feet deep there.

"The road is closed at both ends," Dirsa said Monday afternoon. "The other bad spot is Kensington Road near Stard Road."

Dirsa said drivers should avoid roads with standing water, even if they look passable. The problem is whether the road will hold because of the water, he said.

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