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Spectators can't resist lure of an ocean out of control

Union Leader Correspondent

October 29. 2012 9:55PM

Sandy O'Connor wouldn't have missed Hurricane Sandy for anything.

The two share the same name, so it was only fitting that they have a stormy meeting on Hampton Beach.

'I always come when there's a coastal storm. I'm Sandy, this is Sandy. It's awesome,' the Manchester woman said as waves splashed over a cement wall along Ocean Boulevard, soaking O'Connor and dozens of spectators who lined the coastline during Monday's noon-time high tide.

The tide came and passed with little flooding and no damage, but local emergency officials were more worried about overnight, when a combination of surge and high tides was expected to bring water levels to at least a foot above flood stage.

'The water that would have gone out isn't going to go out as far as it should, so we're going to have a lot of problems,' North Hampton fire Lt. Brad Hutchings said.

Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said the town fared 'as well as could be expected' in terms of flooding as the hurricane pounded New Hampshire's coastline with winds gusting in the upper 60 mph range, spraying water and sand.

'We were contending with large crowds of onlookers trying to get photos and that certainly can be a challenge for us. Those waves bring rocks, sticks and other debris up and it can definitely injure people,' Sullivan said.

Sullivan said he is keeping a close eye on Ocean Boulevard, especially a problem spot at the bottom of High Street.

'We'll monitor that and make decisions based on safety,' he said.

Other areas on Ashworth Avenue can also flood during significant tides, especially in an area south of G Street to around L or M streets.

While there were no evacuations on the coast, a regional storm shelter for Seacoast residents opened at noon Monday at the North Hampton School, 201 Atlantic Ave.

Hutchings said a handful of people came to the shelter Monday afternoon.

Sandy attracted thrill seekers to New Hampshire beaches throughout the day, including Jeremy Raadmae, 34, who lives in a condo on Brown Street in Hampton, a short distance away from the beach.

Raddmae wasn't worried about the threat of coastal flooding.

'I've survived floods before,' he said.

Charlie Moore, a state representative from Jaffrey, made the drive to Hampton Beach to check out the storm. He served in the Coast Guard and recalled participating in rescue missions during the so-called Perfect Storm in 1991.

'This is a pretty intense storm,' he said.

At Brown's Lobster Pound on Route 286 in Seabrook, the Blackwater River rose up and flooded the parking area shortly before the power went out Monday afternoon.

Manager Robert Brown said the water didn't enter the popular restaurant as it has in past storms.

'I've seen a lot worse,' he said, 'but I don't want to open my mouth too soon.'

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