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Icy waters flood Our Town

  • A Concord Street Yard showed evidence of the flooding even after waters had receded on Saturday. —Courtesy photo

  • Top: Flooding behind Depot Square in Peterborough on Saturday morning forced evacuations. Above: Sharon Road remains flooded after ice jams in the Contoocook River caused water levels to wash over the road. Left: The entrance to the bike path on Summer Street was affected by the flooding on Saturday.  Courtesy photos

  • A Concord Street Yard showed evidence of the flooding even after waters had receded on Saturday. —Courtesy photo

  • Flooding behind Depot Square in Peterborough on Saturday morning forced evacuations. Courtesy photo

  • A Concord Street yard showed evidence of the flooding even after waters had receded on Saturday. —Courtesy photo

  • Hans Kaufhold of Peterborough stands beside the still-swollen Contoocook River, which flooded Saturday, leaving huge blocks of ice in Kaufhold's backyard on Concord Street. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Hans Kaufhold of Peterborough stands beside the still-swollen Contoocook River, which flooded Saturday, leaving huge blocks of ice in Kaufhold's backyard on Concord Street. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Hans Kaufhold of Peterborough stands beside the still-swollen Contoocook River, which flooded Saturday, leaving huge blocks of ice in Kaufhold's backyard on Concord Street. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Hans Kaufhold of Peterborough stands beside the still-swollen Contoocook River, which flooded Saturday, leaving huge blocks of ice in Kaufhold's backyard on Concord Street. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, January 15, 2018 5:29PM

Sharon Road remained underwater on Monday morning, after spending the weekend looking more like a river than a roadway.

After a 70-degree temperature swing over the course of a week, culminating in a Friday night rainstorm, rivers across Southern New Hampshire swelled and were blocked by ice jams, sending that excess water into the streets and people’s basements.

Several roads in Peterborough and Sharon were closed due to localized flooding Saturday morning, including Concord Street, Summer Street, Sharon Road, and Route 123. Route 202 North at Sand Hill Road was reopened by noon Saturday, with road crews working to repair newly created potholes. Summer Street was also back open by noon. Sharon Road, however, remained closed, as the Contoocook River swelled over its banks and sent ice floes sliding into the street.

Those same ice floes were evident in the backyards of homes along Concord Street. Hans Kaufhold of Peterborough is a long-time resident of the road, and has seen it flood before, but this has been the worst in his memory he said. 

“My son woke me up at 6 a.m.,” said Kaufhold. “The water had come up into the cellar.”

The family didn’t have to evacuate, he said, and had access to a sump pump to start clearing out the water immediately, but it still left a “holy mess.”

Sheets of ice six inches thick or more still rested on Kaufhold’s lawn, having been left there by receding waters – that’s not something he’s seen before, he said. 

The water was high enough that he and his son had to move equipment that was stored in garage bays at the back of the house, where the flooding occurred, and to go over the top of his boots, said Kaufhold. 

“It was at least two feet,” he indicated. “I’ve never seen it like this before.”

A few doors down, at the Jack Daniels Motor Inn, they fared better, said owner Pam Lemire. While there were delays among the staff getting in at the regular time due to the closed roadway on Concord Street, the property wasn’t flooded, she said, mainly because when the inn was rebuilt in the 1980s after a major flooding incident, then-owners Dan O’Rourke and Jack Bullock purposefully raised the property above the 100-year flood plain. 

“It was quite a sight to see, I hear,” said Lemire. 

In Depot Square, Ellen Smith, owner of European Esthetics, came in on Saturday morning to find several inches of water flooding her salon. They have been trying to pump the water out, and at one point on Sunday morning, thought they had succeeded and no new water was coming in, said Smith in an interview on Monday. They began the process of drying out, only to be hit with a second rise of the river on Sunday that again flooded the shop with about two inches of water, which was still in the shop on Monday.

“There’s nothing we can do until the water stops coming in,” said Smith. 

The salon was closed over the weekend and on Monday, and likely would for several more days while the water is pumped out, the place aired and dried, and damage assessed.

“The loss of income is concerning, because of not being open for several days and having to cancel clients,” said Smith. “That’s hard on the business, hard on people counting on that income, and hard on the clients who might have booked a long time ago. Hopefully, this will be done and over with quickly and we can get back to business.”

Waters on Concord Street and Sharon Road were deep enough that they caused trouble for vehicles that attempted to cross them, causing drivers on both roads to become stuck.

On Concord Street, in the early hours of the morning, police had to wade into the high waters to assist a motorist who had attempted to cross the flooding and assist her to dry ground. Her car was towed from the waters by Mickey’s Auto Body.

On Sharon Road, waters were high enough to pick up a car attempting to traverse them. Rescue crews weren’t able to get to that car, but it eventually floated back far enough that the driver was able to get purchase.

No one was hurt in either incident. 

Waters were as high as three to four feet on Concord Street, said Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker, and basements in several areas of town were flooded. 

About 18 residences were impacted, and some were evacuated due to the flooding, said Walker, but waters receded in a matter of hours, allowing people to return to their homes before the morning was over on Saturday.

“Mother nature just takes care of it,” said Walker.

But ice jams continued to cause flooding problems on Sharon Road into Monday, including cutting off access to at least one residence.

“We’ve spoken to them, and they have electricity and heat, and are fine, they just can’t get in or out because the road is impassible,” said Walker.

The water has left its mark on the roadways even where it has receded, and police were warning drivers of potholes that were left on Concord Street due to the water damage. The State Department of Transportation will be responsible for any repairs needed to Sharon Road, but assessments of the damage will have to wait until the water recedes.