NH residents dig out

BY LARA BRICKER | NH | March 6, 2001

Little Brook Farm owner Dan Davis climbed onto his tractor in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday and began

the wearisome process of trying to keep up with the snowfall on his fields. His 35 Black Angus beef cattle stood

unable to walk around in the nearly two-feet of wet snow.

"I haven't seen him yet today," his wife June said late Tuesday morning. Davis, of Newfields, NH, was able to keep small areas of the fields

cleared and the animals were able to go into the barn for shelter. A backup generator was available to power the water pump in the case of

a power outage.

June explained that several of the cows were due to deliver calves, making it necessary to keep a close eye on them throughout the storm.

Residents in New Hampshire communities such as Newfields that are located away from the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean were digging

out from the first half of a monster storm that dumped anywhere from 12 to 24 inches of snow on the ground by Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, residents along the 18 miles of New Hampshire coast from Seabrook through Hampton and Portsmouth were dealing with

the potential for flooding because of high winds and wild seas. The Seacoast Chapter of the American Red Cross opened up emergency

shelters in Hampton and Rye on Monday and planned to keep them operating until at least Wednesday morning, said Karen Howard,

Acting Disaster Director for the Chapter. "We encouraged people to start evacuating yesterday, so that they wouldn't end up stuck and not

able to get to safety," Howard said Tuesday. "We're not out of the woods yet, so we're going to keep the shelters open."

While forecasters have been comparing the current storm to the infamous Blizzard of '78, locals who lived through the '78 event say the

current storm doesn't even come close. "I remember the wind and you couldn't even drive it was snowing so hard," said Exeter Emergency

Management Director Chris Soave. "There were five-foot drifts across the road and I didn't know if I was on the road or off the road, I just

kept driving."

Howard was living on Hampton Beach during the Blizzard of '78 and remembered the ocean coming over the retaining walls. "The thing I

remember most were the military vehicles going up and down Ocean Boulevard because no other vehicles could drive in it," Howard said.

Soave, who is also a captain on the Exeter Fire Department, said the most challenging part of the storm so far is driving the ambulances

and fire trucks to calls for service. While main roads in town had been plowed by Tuesday morning, the secondary roads and back roads

were still covered in snow, making travel nearly impossible for some.

Local volunteers for Adventist Community Service have not been called to assist in a major disaster in New Hampshire since 1993, when

the area was put under water by a flood, explained Paul Watson, the New Hampshire Disaster Coordinator for Adventist Community

Service. "Our center does have food and clothing available," Watson said, adding he has several dozen volunteers he is able to call.

Watson would be notified of a need to help out by the local Red Cross, if they found they were in need of more volunteers. Watson was

not living in New Hampshire when the Blizzard of '78 buried the region in snow and said he was not concerned with the forecasts he saw

on Monday. "I have nothing to compare it with," he said. "I don't think from our respect it's going to be something we can't deal with."

The Rev. David Wuori, of the Newmarket Community Church, works with the Salvation Army Chapter in Portland, ME, during local

disasters. "We're waiting for instructions," Rev. Wuori said Monday afternoon. The Newmarket Community Church has a food pantry and

clothing in their thrift shop that is ready if the need arises.

Jim Van Dongen, the spokesperson for the NH state Office of Emergency Management held a conference call early Monday with Gov.

Jeanne Shaheen and state Assistant Commissioner of Transportation Carol Murray to discuss preparations for the storm.

"Our role is to coordinate on the state level," Van Dongen said. "The people doing the grunt work are at the local level; all disasters start at

the local levels." Van Dongen was advising residents not to go out driving around and to go home if they were out. He urged people to

use common sense and resist the urge to get swept up in the hysteria surrounding the storm. "This is northern New England, it snows

here, get used to it," he said.

By Monday afternoon about half of the airlines using Manchester Airport, the state's largest airport, had cancelled all flights, according to

Assistant Airport Director Brian O'Neill. As the actual severity of the storm was not yet known, the airport had not made any decisions

about suspending all operations. "I can tell you this, Manchester Airport has not closed because of snow in over a decade," O'Neill said.

Some airlines utilizing Manchester cancelled flights as early as Sunday, making travel difficult for many New Hampshire residents

returning to the state at the end of school vacation week. Brentwood residents Kevin Hamel and Melissa Brum barely made it home from

a cruise in the Cayman Islands when their flight from Cincinnati, Ohio to Manchester Airport was cancelled Sunday night. The couple

ended up catching a flight that landed just before 1 a.m. at Logan Airport. "It was 80 degrees all the way, it was gorgeous," Hamel said. "It

just made you forget about winter and then we come home to the biggest storm since the Blizzard of '78."

Public Service of New Hampshire, the state's largest electric provider, had only 100 customers without power as a result of the storm, said

Ian Wilson, spokesperson for PSNH. "It actually was a relative non-event for us," Wilson said. But as the storm continued Tuesday Wilson

said the Seacoast area of the state could experience outages. "The wind is heavier and more sustained in the Seacoast than any other part of

the state, making is possible for icing on wires and trees to come down on lines," Wilson said. "We're watching it pretty closely."

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