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Gov. Hassan tours flood damaged towns, toll will be in millions

July 03. 2013 6:28PM
Gov. Maggie Hassan visited the Slayton Hill Road bridge in Lebanon, where a newly opened affordable housing complex was evacuated due to flooding and a landslide, which closed the bridge. 

Gov. Maggie Hassan declared a state of emergency early Wednesday morning before heading out to assess first-hand flood damaged areas in Westmoreland, Alstead, Washington and Lebanon.

"This is devastating and we've got to figure out how to get these people's homes back," she said outside of the flood ravaged Rivermere affordable housing development in Lebanon. "It's really extraordinary what the power of water can do."

State officials are already estimating the cost to repair the damage exceeds the $2 million FEMA threshold for federal repair funds, she said, and are working to document all of the damage that has occurred from the weather system that started last Wednesday.

Residents who have personal property damage to report or are aware of any public property damage that has not been assessed yet are encouraged to call 211 to report the damage, she said.

While on Hassan's stop in the town of Washington, DOT Commissioner Chris Clement said they had visited a shelter housing about 20 teens who had been on a camping trip.

Clements and Perry Plummer, acting director of the NH Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said they had seen a lot of washed out roads damaged in flash floods that morning.

Clements commented of the sporadic nature of where the damage hit and where it didn't.

"It's kind of a strange phenomenon," he said.

When asked about Route 12 A in Alstead, which had been rebuilt after floods washed it out in 2005, Clements said larger and more culverts will be used when the road is rebuilt since the mountainous terrain the road winds through makes widening or shifting the road impossible.

When Hassan reached Lebanon she met privately with Fire Chief Christopoulos to discuss the closed Route 120 that had suffered a water main break during the tumultuous rain event in the city on Tuesday afternoon.

Outside of the meeting he said the route should be reopened by evening. The state road also had suffered a great deal of washout.

It is estimated about 1.8 inches of rain fell on the city in about 45 minutes, he said.

Damage to the Storrs Ski Area has caused Lebanon to cancel its Fourth of July fireworks show that is held there every year, he said.

Christopoulos declined to give an estimate of the cost of the damage to the city as the damage was still being assessed.

Hassan then visited Slayton Hill Road and Dulac Street where the newly opened affordable housing complex Rivermere had been evacuated due to a landslide and flooding. She almost lost a boot to the mud she said while touring the inside of a mud-filled apartment.

Seventeen families comprised of 42 people were evacuated, said Andrew Winter, executive director of the Twin Pine Housing Trust that owns the development.

The federally funded development offers low-income residents affordable housing, he said. Residents pay 30 percent of their income. Currently the families are being put up in local hotel and motels by the Trust. However, the development is mud filled and without power and water, Winter said.

So he is beginning the process of finding permanent housing for the residents. Something that is not going to be easy since the Housing Trust that has over 200 properties in the Upper Valley region usually only has a handful of vacancies because of the high demand for affordable housing, he said.

It's a "heartbreaking" situation, he said. These families are the least able to afford having to relocate, he said.

Waiting outside of their home at 4 Dulac Street to talk to Hassan were father and son Albert Craig Sr. and Jr.

The family has lived on Dulac Street since 1996, Craig Jr. said, and in that time he's never seen the neighborhood so "ponded" during a rainfall.

The Craigs said they believe the new housing development that was built at the end of the street by filling in wetlands and raising the ground level caused the Slayton Hill runoff that devastated Slayton Hill Road and Dulac Street and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Craig JR. said he understood the development residents had been excavated, but there are about 24 families in the neighbourhoods who don't live in the development who are without power and water.

Craig Sr. said they are currently living in a hotel at their own expense.

The Craig family lost about ten feet of their yard into the Mascoma River.

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