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Sununu seeks federal disaster aid for mid-March blizzard

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 11. 2018 11:17PM
Route 101 through Candia was quiet as the March 13, 2018, nor’easter was ramping up. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu has asked the Trump administration to declare that a record March snowstorm was a major disaster in three New Hampshire counties.

In the state’s application Friday, Sununu said state and local government damages from the March 13 snowstorm were at least $1.98 million in Carroll, Rockingham and Strafford Counties.

The snowfall in Rockingham and Strafford Counties was a one-day record. Sununu said local communities and the state sustained damages in all 10 counties.

Damages to all state and local governments from this storm were nearly $4 million, the governor said, including $1.3 million in Hillsborough County and another $700,000 in Merrimack County.

This application, however, seeks federal aid only for the three counties where there were unprecedented snowfalls, Sununu said.

“This storm considerably strained state and local resources; it consumed staff time and exhausted available resources due to blizzard conditions, strong winds, and reduced visibility that restricted travel and storm operations,” Sununu said in the application.

The communities with the highest, per-capita damages from this storm were Greenland, Hampton Falls and Kingston in Rockingham County; Milton, Barrington and Strafford in Strafford County, and Moultonborough in Carroll County, Sununu said.

“The significant accumulation of snow and winds on Tuesday, March 13, resulted in hundreds of traffic accidents and vehicles off the road, forced over 500 school closures, and delayed or canceled transit, rail and flights across much of the state,” Sununu said.

“These conditions created damages that overwhelmed the capabilities of state and local jurisdictions and required an immediate, urgent response.”

Sununu said to battle the storm the state used 13,400 tons of salt which exceeds 5 percent of what the state uses in a typical winter season.

The state is still awaiting its request for federal disaster relief from the March 2-8 coastal storm that caused widespread flooding and damage to the seawall in Rockingham County towns.

This latest application also reveals how taxing this winter season was on state resources.

Sununu said the Department of Transportation used more than 230,000 tons of salt, the third highest amount since 1942 when the state first started tracking its use.

The only higher amounts of salt used by the state came in 2008 with nearly 250,000 tons and in 2003 when nearly 245,000 tons were put down.

The salt use this season is 35 percent higher than the 30-year average from 1987 through 2017, Sununu added.

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