Storms flood New England

Sporadic, heavy rainstorms in New England during the past week have caused damaging flash floods in the southern counties of Vermont and New Hampshire.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | BALTIMORE | August 12, 2003



"This stuff has been really intense damage in very localized areas."

—James Van Dongen


Sporadic, heavy rainstorms in New England during the past week have caused damaging flash floods in the southern counties of Vermont and New Hampshire, prompting Gov. Craig Benson to declare a state of emergency for New Hampshire and forcing Gov. James Douglas to consider the same option for Vermont.

"We've been in a very weird weather pattern for the better part of two weeks," said James Van Dongen, spokesman for the New Hampshire Bureau of Emergency Management. "Most of the damage has been localized flooding, road washouts, that sort of thing."

Most of the serious damage, Van Dongen said, occurred in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, which received the most storm damage in that state, particularly in the towns of Westmoreland, Walpole, Gilsum, Surry, Chesterfield, Acworth and Sullivan. An undetermined number of homes were damaged by flooding, he said.

Flooding in August is unusual for New Hampshire, Van Dongen said. Normally, spring flooding is a more common occurrence.

"This is entirely different," he said. "This stuff has been really intense damage in very localized areas."

In Vermont, most of the weather damage is confined to the southern counties of Windham and Windsor, and most of that damage has been done to public infrastructure, estimated at more than $1 million, said Ross Nagy, chief of policy and planning for the Vermont Emergency Management Agency.

Residential damage has been less pervasive, Nagy said, but a full accounting of this damage has not yet be made. It is unlikely that residential damage, however , will meet the guidelines for individual assistance grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said. (A FEMA damage assessment team is currently touring flood sites in Vermont, Nagy said.)

The floods are the result of "slightly modified" tropical weather system, coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, that is affecting the whole Northeast, said Warren Synder, science officer for the National Weather Service Albany office.

"We have had an unstable, moist air mass over the northeast part of the country," Snyder said. The precipitation from this air mass has not been continuous, he said, but has come in fits, usually in the late afternoon, after hot weather during the day "fires up" heavy bursts rain.

This unusual weather system, Synder said, explains why some areas of New England have received five inches of rain in the last week, while others have received little or none.

And this process isn't quite finished, he said.

"We expect the last hurrah by late Wednesday," Synder said.


Related Topics:

Solutions for flood insurance

How US flood insurance works

Volunteers build a Christmas present


More links on Flooding

Advertisers:

DNN Sponsors include:

Advertisements: