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October 30. 2012 5:29PM

Hooksett town officials cite preparedness for town's handling of storm


PSNH workers stand across the street from a live wire taken down by a tree. (BRENDA CLOGSTON)

The Hooksett Kmart's new drainage system passed its first big test, as the store had no flooding Monday night. The Kmart's parking lot has suffered severe flooding in years past. (BRENDAN CLOGSTON)

Hurricane Sandy blew through Hooksett Monday night, but the town weathered the storm without serious incident. (BRENDAN CLOGSTON)
HOOKSETT - Although approximately a quarter of the town remains without power, Hooksett and its 14,000-plus residents weathered Hurricane Sandy largely without incident: a feat town officials tout as a sign of preparedness.

“We spent a lot of time preparing, and that paid off,” said town administrator Dean Shankle. “During the storm, everything worked the way it was supposed to. Highway was out most of the night, fire were out, police. We got together earlier (Monday) morning and everyone knew where everything was and doing everything they could … When you're prepared, it's easy to take care of things.”

Downed power lines and fallen trees remained the most pressing issue in the town. Around a quarter of Hooksett's population was without electricity Tuesday afternoon, according to official estimates. At the peak of the storm, Public Service of New Hampshire reported over 2,000 of their 6,565 Hooksett customers were without power. Approximately 1,500 remained powerless as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Short of the outages, however, Hooksett officials have encountered no serious issues during or after the storm. No injuries or deaths occurred in the town last night, and damage reports, while not final, seem to indicate only minor harm due to falling trees. As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, only two roads were closed in Hooksett: Dartmouth Street and Farmer Road, which safety officials expected to open later in the evening.

There were also no reported flooding incidents in town. The Hooksett K-mart, where a new drainage system was installed after the store's parking lot suffered severe flooding during a 2011 storm, passed the night without incident.

As a precautionary measure, the Hooksett Town Hall gym was converted yesterday into the shelter and warming center for residents without power, but is currently unstaffed as no requests for shelter have yet been reported. The gym may still be opened, however, if it proves necessary.

“We're still willing to provide shelter for people if they need it, showers and things like that,” said Shankle.

Hooksett residents in need of shelter may call the Hooksett Fire Department at 623-7272. The gym is located on 35 Main St. at the rear of the building, facing Donati Park.

Shankle credited the gym's lack of utilization to the relative warmth of the weather, and the preparedness of the town's people, particularly with the use of generators.

“I think in New Hampshire you see a lot of that,” he said. “I think people have been through enough storms that they know how to take care of themselves for some period of time.”

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