"Frankenstorm" Frenzy Whips up Waves of Curiosity

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, October 30, 2012

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

Seacoast area residents and visitors head for the coast to photograph the Sandy's fury near Wallis Sands in Rye on Monday.
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]

HAMPTON -- Hurricane Sandy lured throngs of shoreline spectators to Hampton Beach and North Beach as the notorious "Frankenstorm" began making its presence felt, with sea-soaked eyewitnesses lining up to behold nature in action and snap pictures of waves splashing over the seawall.

"I have never seen anything like this," said Skylar Quinn, who just moved to Hampton from Texas. "This is my first coastal experience during a hurricane and it's kind of scary."

Quinn was one of many who came out to take pictures of the rough surf Monday afternoon during the first high tide with Hurricane Sandy inching closer to the Seacoast.

The storm's potential destructive power — with the worst hitting the New Hampshire coast Monday afternoon and lasting until 3 a.m. Tuesday — caused N.H. Gov. John Lynch to declare a state of emergency.

Unitil reported that by early evening 3,333 customers had lost power in Seabrook, along with 264 in Hampton, 466 in Hampton Falls and 13 in North Hampton.

The town of Hampton closed its offices as well as the Lane Memorial Library on Monday afternoon as the governor recommended all nonessential employees be allowed to go home. Selectmen also canceled their meeting.

Even though both beaches are closed for the duration of the storm, Hampton police allowed bystanders to take pictures Monday afternoon because, at least at that time, there was not much of a hazard posed by debris spilling over from the ocean as in past storms.

One police officer, however, was not amused to see the huge crowds.

"It's all fun and games until someone gets hit with a rock," he said.

When asked what brought her to the beach, Amanda Duty of Portsmouth said "take a look," as a wave splashed over the seawall drenching more than a dozen beachgoers.

Duty brought her kids, including her new baby, proclaiming that the storm was "baby's first hurricane."

After one man got splashed by a wave, he started to sing the song "Sandy" from "Grease."

"Sandy, my darling you hurt me real bad," he sang off-key.

While the beach was full of storm watchers, the majority of the businesses were boarded up, including year-round ones like the Ashworth by the Sea, which has decided to close for the next few days due to the storm.

Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said they survived the first high tide with no major issues.

"There was pretty good splash-over and just some minor flooding on the back streets of Ashworth Avenue from the Hampton police station to Wally's Pub," Sullivan said.

"But for large tides, it's not uncommon to see flooding on those streets."

Sullivan said those streets had 1 to 2 feet of water spilling over from the marsh. But by mid-afternoon, the majority of the water had already receded.

Sullivan said they expect additional flooding at the next high tide set for Tuesday at midnight as the worst of the hurricane is supposed to last until Tuesday morning.

It's during that duration that police are concerned about power outages caused by downed wires, trees and limbs.

Wind gusts, he said, were expected to be around 40-70 mph.

Sullivan said a regional storm shelter for Seacoast residents is open at the North Hampton School, 201 Atlantic Ave. in North Hampton.

The shelter, he said, will be available for anyone who wants to leave voluntarily due to flooding or loss of power.

Large waves continue to soak people who dare to get too close to surf pounding Hampton Beach on Monday.
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]

A steady flow of people stream into Hampton Beach on Monday to watch the heavy surf brought on by Hurricane Sandy.
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]

A large wave created by Hurricane Sandy crashes over the sea wall along the main boardwalk of Hampton Beach during high tide on Monday.
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]

John Lovett and Chase Little, 8, of Plaistow, dodge a crashing wave at Boar's Head on Hampton Beach on Monday.
[John Carden photo]
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