Rain Damage Is Still Being Assessed

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, May 19, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Recent floods caused parts of the pavement along Drakeside Road in Hampton to collapse. [Photo by Jamie Cohen]

HAMPTON -- The transfer station, which is usually closed on Tuesdays, was opened this week so residents could get rid of soaked rugs, furniture, furnaces and other items that were destroyed during the worst rainfall in memory.

Public Works will also pick up flood-damaged debris during normal rubbish collection next week only.

Resident Tammy Deland said she lost everything in her basement, including a rug and entertainment center, because of a record rainfall of 12 inches.

"Everyone has water and it could have been a lot worse," Deland said. "I was one of the lucky ones."

Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said the worst may be over but the cleanup has just begun.

"Things are improving very well," said Sullivan. "Most of the roadways that were closed are open at this point. A couple are still closed but the water appears to be receding."

Assessing the damage:

Fire Chief Hank Lipe, who serves as the town’s emergency management director, said the challenge of assessing the damage begins now.

"It is way too early to say," Lipe said.

Lipe said he is working on completing a damage assessment, which is the first step in securing federal disaster relief funds.

The two hardest hit areas in Hampton were the Taylor River Estates and Gentian Road.

Department of Public Works Director John Hangen said water also caused damage to some of the roadways.

Part of Drakeside Road is now only one lane after a section collapsed during the rain.

"There is about a 40 foot sinkhole," Hangen said. "We are still investigating what caused it."

Town Manager James Barrington said it was way too early to say how the storm affected the town’s budget.

"Our budget will be strained," Barrington said. "This was a major event and we had a lot of overtime over the weekend. And it’s not over yet. We still have a lot of cleanup to do."

The Old Grist Mill:

Barrington said the water on High Street appears to be receding. The area was flooded Sunday after a dam on Mill Pond gave way, sending water under the Old Grist Mill onto High Street.

"The Grist Mill is still standing," Barrington said. "The foundation was pretty solid but once the water recedes completely we are going to evaluate the condition of the building."

Chris Cheney said if it wasn’t for the work of Department of Public Works his basement at 510 High Street would have been filled with water.

"I got lucky," Cheney said. "My home is bone dry. If it weren’t for the work of Department of Public Works, who knows what would of happened?"

Cheney said he watched for two days as members of the DPW worked relentlessly, trying to stop water from getting into people’s homes.

Hangen said his crews were on the scene because there was a concern that the water might cause structural damage to one of the apartment buildings on the street.

"They just did a great job," Cheney said. "I talked to one guy who had a cup a coffee in his hand and asked how he was doing. He said, 'I don’t drink coffee and that should tell you how long I’ve been working.’ I just want to applaud these guys."

Wastewater treatment plant:

Hangen said flow levels at the wastewater treatment plant are back to normal.

The plant, which usually takes in 3 million gallons a day, took in more than 14 million gallons during the height of the storm.

While crews were busy pumping out areas in town that were flooded, Hangen said a crew was working at the treatment plant.

"There were some guys working 24 hours straight with cat naps in between," Hangen said. "We have a very strong, dedicated staff."

A crew at the treatment plant had to pump the tanks that were threatening to overflow. While one of the tanks did overflow, no solids were released. Hangen said the department informed the state about the violation.

Health concerns:

Building Inspector Kevin Schultz, who also serves as the town’s health officer, said now that the rain is gone, the most important thing residents can do is get the water out of their basements.

"Getting dry is the key," said Schultz. "Open up windows, use regular household fans and get good air circulation. You do not want the wetness to remain and mold and mildew to start."

Schultz said if residents start to notice mold growth, they should clean it with bleach and water.

"Wipe down those areas to prevent it from coming up," Schultz said.

He suggests residents visit www.dhhs.nh.gov and www.epa.gov/iaq for information on how to prevent mold growth and how to clean it.

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