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Five counties damaged by fall storm OK'd for federal aid

Union Leader Correspondent

January 03. 2018 10:55AM
The 17- unit Gilcrest Cottages and Motel in Thornton was a victim of the swollen Pemigewasset River following a storm in October. (JOHN KOZIOL/Correspondent)

BERLIN — President Donald Trump has declared five New Hampshire counties eligible for federal aid in cleaning up after the Oct. 29-Nov. 1 wind and rain storm that damaged more than 300 roads and left some 270,000 Granite State residents and businesses without power for up to several days.

Trump made the declaration Tuesday, a day before a winter-time version of that storm began heading up the East Coast.

Trump’s declaration covers Belknap, Carroll, Coos, Grafton and Sullivan counties, and makes state and local governments, as well as certain private, nonprofit organizations, eligible for funding “on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storm and flooding…” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a prepared statement.

The disaster declaration also makes New Hampshire eligible for statewide hazard-mitigation measures.

Gov. Chris Sununu sought the declaration and the request was supported by the state’s entire Congressional delegation. Sununu estimated that the storm caused nearly $6 million in damage to public infrastructure.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation has said the majority of road damage occurred north of Concord. At one point, Route 302, a central east-west artery through Crawford Notch in Hart’s Location, required multi-day emergency repairs after the rain-swollen Dry River damaged a box culvert.

Other problem spots in the White Mountains were reported on Routes 25A, 25C and 118, and Studio Road, all in Warren.

At the latter location, the Baker River sheared off a section of its eastern bank, and with it, half of a vacation home, which then smashed into a bridge. Storm waters also washed a house off its foundation on Jericho Road in Bartlett, while the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods appeared even more castle-like when the Ammonoosuc River overflowed, creating a moat around the iconic hotel.

In a joint press release, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster applauded Trump’s disaster declaration.

Fellow Democrat and Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier had the same positive response.

“We’re very fortunate in that we actually will receive those funds because the city spent in excess of $500,000 in repairing municipal infrastructure in that storm,” Grenier said Wednesday. He said most of the damage occurred on the city’s East Side, and Howland Street in particular.

“We’ll be eternally grateful for those (FEMA funds) to replenish our coffers,” Grenier said. “It was quite a disaster, and it looks like some parts of the state are looking at another major weather event” on Thursday.

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