Storm Causes Flooding, Closes Roads

Ossipee — April 19, 2007 — Monday’s rainstorm washed out roads around Carroll County, dropping more than 5 inches of rain many parts of the county, and causing flooding from North Conway to Wakefield.

The rain was heaviest Monday morning, but rain continued throughout the day, swelling small streams over their banks, and turning wetlands into ponds. The storm also brought in high winds and there were power outages reported throughout the state.

The storm was nearly disastrous for three young kayakers, who had to be rescued shortly after starting a trip down the Bearcamp River Tuesday afternoon.

The teenagers put in their kayaks at the boat launch by the old Whittier Covered Bridge in West Ossipee. The trip was short-lived because two of them got caught up in some downed trees in the river’s swift current and had to be rescued by the West Ossipee Fire Department. One person got out of the trees, made it to dry land, and called 911. They clung to branches for nearly 15 minutes before rescuers arrived in an airboat.

At the time of the rescue, the river was four feet higher than it had been on Sunday, and the current was flowing at 3,000 cubic feet per second. A week earlier, it was flowing at only 100 cubic feet per second. Tamworth and Ossipee’s police departments and N.H. Fish and Game also responded to the scene.

The rain and damage from extensive flooding, especially in the southern part of the state, caused Governor John Lynch to call a state of emergency and activate the N.H. National Guard.

Those who procrastinated on their taxes may have been the only ones to benefit from the natural disaster, as the federal government officially announced that the deadline to file income taxes was moved out by two days, making the official deadline for New England states April 19.

Most others did not benefit from the rain, as the large amounts of rain and melting snow overloaded river and lake systems, causing flooding in many low-lying areas. Extensive road damage happened in areas further south, including Ossipee, Effingham, and Wakefield, with area schools closed for a day and a half because of impassable road conditions.

Road closures were erratic and sometimes short-lived, making it difficult for drivers to determine what route to take. The Carroll County Sheriff’s Department issued a press release Monday, April 16, containing a road safety advisory for several roads in Carroll County.

“Throughout Carroll County, there are a number of roads, or portions of roads closed, low lying bridges washed out … Some of the problem areas are in high ground but are being washed out due to water run-off and mud,” the release stated.

The state Department of Transportation website announced the state of emergency late Tuesday and included a map of road closures throughout the state, but those were not regularly updated. Route 171 near the intersection of Route 28 was listed as closed but had been opened by 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.

As of Tuesday, Route 153 in Wakefield was closed. Tuesday also saw the closing of the north end of Route 113 in Madison by Alvin J. Coleman and Son due to water running over the road. Route 153 was also closed for a period of time in Eaton as water was moving over the road so quickly the fire department put barricades over the road.

In Freedom, Burnam and Young’s Hill Roads were closed as of press time on Wednesday. Burnam Road completely washed out during the rain.

Perhaps no town was harder hit than Ossipee, which has a large number of dirt roads and hilly terrain. Dirt roads suffered significant erosion, and in places the sides of paved roads were undercut by flowing water. Selectmen said Monday evening that many dirt roads in town were closed and most suffered some damage from the storm.

As of Monday evening, the following Ossipee Roads were closed, at least in part: Foggs Ridge Road between the Grange Hall and John Hodgdon Road, Walker Hill Road, Blake Hill Road, Hanson Road, Moody Pond Road, Sawyer Road, Pine Hill Road, Chapel Lane, upper and lower Beechman Hill Road, Pork Hill Road, the Remle Road bridge and the Thurley Road bridge. Newman Drew Road was listed as passable on the selectmen’s list of closed roads.

Selectman Skehan thanked the town highway crew and emergency management team for their efforts to deal with washouts, flooding and other problems on Monday, and said that Tuesday “We will begin work to get the roads back in order to be passable.

Flood warnings were still in effect for the southern part of the county as of press time with larger rivers taking longer to peak than others. Snow was also predicted to fall until the weekend. More spring-like weather is forecast to arrive in time for the weekend, with temperatures expected to climb into the 50s and 60s by Saturday, April 21.

“By the weekend, high pressure will build in and things will start to clear,” wrote Ryan Knapp, Meteorologist for the Mount Washington Observatory Tuesday, April 17.

Conway weather observer Briggs Bunker said the Saco River crested at 7 feet Monday night, below the flood stage of 9 feet. Since Sunday, as of Wednesday morning, April 18, Bunker said North Conway had received 5.19 inches of precipitation from the storm. He said April tends to be a rainy month. The wettest up until April 1987 was 7.34 inches of precipitation.

The April Nor’easter that damaged local roadways left snow on the upper elevations. The Mount Washington Observatory recorded a peak wind gust of 156 mph from the east at roughly 10:30 a.m. Monday. The prevailing wind direction on Mt. Washington generally is from the northwest, but this week, they were from the east and northeast.

Wildcat Mountain — which extended is season a week to April 22 — closed Monday but re-opened with all 47 of its trails open. General Manager Tom Caughey said the upper elevations received more than 11 to 13 additional inches of new snow Monday night on top of the 8 to 10 received Sunday night. Publicist Irene Donnell said Wildcat had received 67 inches of snow so far this month as of Tuesday afternoon, with more on the way that night.

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