Power outages reported
State of emergency declared as towns spend Monday preparing for the worst
Gov. Lynch declared a state of emergency for New Hampshire on Monday morning, asking motorists to stay off the roads in the afternoon, and officials in area towns were making emergency preparations in the event that high winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Sandy materialized later in the day.
Martin Murray, spokesperson for Public Service of New Hampshire, said Monday at 2 p.m. that residents from a number of the Monadnock region’s towns were just beginning to report power outages. The towns of Dublin, Greenfield, Peterborough, Rindge, Sharon, Wilton and Antrim all had reported power outages. “There are no details as to what streets are affected,” Murray said. “These are all outages that have just been reported in the last hour or so.”
He said PSNH work crews would be out trying to restore power as long as it was safe to do so. “We are anticipating that there will be a period of time when it is not safe to restore power,” he said, referring to the anticipated high winds expected in the area late Monday and early Tuesday.
Large trees had come down in Dublin, Greenfield and Rindge by 2:15 p.m. Monday, according to a tweet from Fire Mutual Aid in Keene.
At a 4 p.m. meeting of Peterborough officials, Police Chief Scott Guinard said power outages had been reported on Union Street, Hunter Farm Road and MacDowell Road. PSNH crews were in the process of restoring power, he said. A number of tree limbs had come down, but no roads were blocked. DPW Director Rodney Bartlett said the storm is predicted to be a “long drawn-out event” but no major flooding was expected. He said there had been a few complaints of localized flooding.
“I don’t see the forecast creating a lot of big issues, just a lot of small ones,” Bartlett said.
Peterborough Town Administrator Pam Brenner said in a phone interview Monday morning that the town is expecting to get about three inches of rain. “The Contoocook doesn’t project to be flooding,” Brenner said. “We are asking residents to uncover drain sites if they see they are clogged by leaves.”
Brenner said there were no plans in the works for shelters, partly because the weather is still relatively mild. “Even if the power does go off, we felt we’ll have time to put shelters together if necessary,” she said. “Food resources may be the bigger issue.”
In Hancock, highway crews were out Monday morning, clearing out a beaver dam at the culvert on Link Road and clearing debris from culverts along Route 137.
In Lyndeborough, Town Administrator Kate Thorndike said the town office would be closing early. “Everyone is still on standby,” she said. “There’s a lot of communication going on.”
All schools in the region were closed Monday due to Hurricane Sandy. But whether or not they would reopen Tuesday was uncertain Monday. “Certainly no school Tuesday is a high probability,” Jaffrey-Rindge School District Supt. Jim O’Neill said by phone Monday. “It is a serious event and we are watching it closely.”
The town of Rindge is encouraging residents to stay tuned to Franklin Pierce University’s radio station, 105.3FM, for emergency management updates throughout the next couple of days, as the storm makes its way across southern New Hampshire. Fire Chief Rick Donovan said Monday the town is prepared to open a shelter at the Toah Nipi Retreat Center on Old Ashburnham Road if there is a need.
The town of Jaffrey’s emergency management team is ready to act, if Hurricane Sandy does cause widespread power outages, said Emergency Management Director Clay Hollister on Monday. A shelter would likely be opened at the Jaffrey Bible School on Turnpike Road, he said. “We are in a mode to be able to open one, but we are waiting to see what happens tonight,” Hollister said.
Neighborhood watch groups were keeping a close eye on Hurricane Sandy in Dublin on Monday, said Thomas Vanderbilt, fire chief and emergency management director. “We have someone on each street responsible for checking in on their neighbors,” Vanderbilt said. “If they need additional resources, they will be in touch with us.”
Vanderbilt said that the town will open a shelter at the Dublin School’s field house, which has a generator, if a need for one arises. Vanderbilt said people should be prepared for up to a week without power.
There were no shelters open in Wilton as of Monday morning. Should there be a need, the town’s default shelter location is at Florence Rideout Elementary School, according to Police Chief Brent Hautanen. The town is mostly concerned with storm drains at the moment, said Hautanen, as they can become plugged or partially blocked with leaves at this time of year. Residents with questions about emergency management should contact the Police Department at 654-9452.
In Bennington, the town is preparing for the storm by stationing emergency vehicles at key locations, including at the Highway Department. According to Police Chief Steve Campbell, in the past, major storms have flooded or washed out roads, making it impossible for fire trucks to render aid to parts of town. “If any section of town gets cut off, we’ll be ready,” said Campbell.
Identified problem areas the department is keeping a close eye on include South Bennington Road, North Bennington Road, Antrim Road, and Bible Hill Road, all of which are in close proximity to the Contoocook River, and have flooded in the past. The town’s website will be continually updated as the storm progresses, said Campbell, but residents can also contact police at 588-3409. Emergency shelter locations in Bennington are at the Town Hall, Fire Department and the VFW Hall, all located on School Street.
Highbridge Hill Elementary School is the designated shelter in New Ipswich, should there be a need for one, according to the town’s Emergency Management Director Jim Hicks.
Emergency management personnel in Francestown planned to set up a command post at the Fire Department by Monday afternoon to deal with any issues the storm might bring, according to Francestown’s Emergency Management Director Kevin Holredge. Any residents who wish to report concerns can contact officials there or call Holredge directly at 486-7595.
Town officials are keeping an eye on low lying areas prone to flooding, such as the south end of the Second N.H. Turnpike, said Holredge, but the town does not expect a large amount of flooding. Should Francestown need to open a shelter, it will be located on the lower level of the town offices.
Greenfield has been preparing for the storm all weekend, according to Emergency Management Director John Gryval. Officials have checked the town’s emergency notification system, Code Red, and those signed up for notification will be updated by phone as the storm continues. There will also be updates posted on the town’s website and town bulletin board.
The Director of the Department of Public Works Tim Murray has posted DPW trucks throughout town to assist with road clearing, said Gryval, and highway workers have been checking drains and culverts. The Fire Department is the designated location for a shelter, but Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center and the Robert C. Harris house are also set up to house people temporarily, and the town will make a decision about which location is the most appropriate should there be a need for one, said Gryval.