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Waters recede in New England

The water is receding in New England after days of flooding, and emergency officials say damage assessments will begin Friday.

BY HEATHER MOYER | CONCORD, N.H. | May 18, 2006

The water is receding in New England after days of flooding, and emergency officials say damage assessments will begin Friday.

In New Hampshire, flooding hit eight of the state's 10 counties. At one point during the heavy rains more than 12 dams were being closely monitored due to concerns over structural integrity and the amount of water behind them.

James Van Dongen, spokesperson for the New Hampshire Office of Emergency Management, said one dam near Bristol is still being closely watched. "We did keep families out of their homes last night in one section of town near there," said Van Dongen. "Probably around 200 to 400 households there were evacuated, but we expect them to be back in later tonight."

Van Dongen said more than 700 roads were at one point compromised by the water, but that number is now down to about 350. The agency has no estimate yet on how many homes were affected. "It's difficult to say which areas were affected the most," he said. "There are badly hit communities scattered around the state. Manchester, Goffstown, Hooksett, Somersworth and Salem were all flooded."

In Massachusetts, the story is similar. Damage assessments are expected to begin Friday when the receding waters reach a manageable level. At one point in the storm, more than 5,000 people were evacuated due to high water.

Peter Judge, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), said local dams are also being monitored, including one in Amesbury and one in Methuen.

"The northeast part of the state was worst hit," said Judge. "Many communities in Essex County and in eastern and northern Middlesex County were flooded, particularly along the Merrimack River."

Judge said Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill, Methuen, Peabody and Saugus were all affected by high water.

"The Essex County area got over 17 inches of rain this past week," he added. "Basically this is an event they haven't seen around here since the 1936 floods."

The National Weather Service reports that some storm rainfall totals for other cities in New England hit 13 and 14 inches for the four-day storm.

York County, Maine, was also affected by the flooding and is under a state of emergency.


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