10 am - ish April 16
This has been a fairly terrifying morning. It rained and blew all night, with the tall trees all around our house swaying in the northeast wind and this morning I tried to make it to work. Pulling out of my driveway, water was rushing down the hill and the road was full of dirt and stones. We live on a small mountain, and are about 850 feet above sea level, and our road is steep and winding. There is nothing between us and the Atlantic except 25 miles of lower land, so nor’easters are really interesting here.
A culvert was blocked across the road and all the water was spilling onto the road, and down my neighbor’s driveway into his yard, and he said, his basement. Luckily a couple of years ago we fixed the end of our drive so that water cannot run down it from the road. Otherwise we would have the same problem. Living on steep slopes is a challenge. Luckily we are wooded and most of the frost was out of the ground.
I started out on my usual route to work. After driving through several places where there were inches of water coming over the road, since culverts were being overwhelmed, and passing many places where the woods and yards had huge standing puddles, I came to a place where there is a substantial brook going under the road. We have had problems in the past here with some clever beavers who decided that a dam was much easier to build at the culvert. They finally had to put up a grating to keep them away from the culvert.
Here the water was really deep. I watched a couple people go through, but when I can’t see what is under the water, I take the warnings we are given seriously. There might be a huge hole dug out of the road. So I turned around, and pulled off the road to call my boss. He turned out to have his sump pump quit sometime during the night, and had 10 inches of water in his basement! I told him I would try the other way to work.
So I came back to town and started east on our main highway, a two lane, well designed state road. After crossing a number of smaller floods across the road and seeing the sides of the road eroding in places where water was rushing down hills along the way, I came to another place that I was unwilling to cross. So again I turned around. I really couldn’t think of another route that wouldn’t take me through low-lying areas, we are in a hilly part of NH.
I called my boss’s house and told him I was going home and would call when I got there safe. Returned to my road, to find that a tree was down on the main road just past my intersection. Coming up the hill, there was a large tree leaning on the wires. I watched my neighbor coming down the hill and crossing under the tree, so I decided that I could safely make it by. It was clear that the power was going to be out when I got home. I carefully traversed the rubble on the road, stopped to check in with the road agent, who will be having a horrible day, since we have places in town that flood regularly, as well as a number of lakes with dams. Got home, my husband was clearing out culverts on our 300 foot drive, we started the generator and are reasonably comfortable, as long as the trees around us stay upright! No cable, but we do get our local PBS station since their transmission tower is at the top of our little mountain. No internet. But cell phones work.
Well, we are stuck here as of 1 pm. We tried to get out and go somewhere, but at one point or another, every road we took was blocked. There is a wire down across the end of the road, so to get out to the state highway we have to take a dirt side road. Then if we turn toward our road, and the town with the supermarket, etc., they won’t let us by our intersection. Going the other way, we can reach a gas station and convenience store, but after that the roads have cones across them. There is a lot of water alongside the roads, and a lot of washouts on the sides of the roads. This is going to be a very expensive storm.
I called my boss. He got to town and bought a couple extra sump pumps, and just made it home, the end of his road, where it joins the state highway, is washed out. Neither of us is going anywhere for a while. I don’t remember us ever closing the office before!
3 pm - We should be able to get out this evening. Also found out no one had reported the tree down across the wires on our road! Called the cable company (our phones are working, so all the wires aren’t down) to make sure they knew we were out and why. Told them nicely that I was going into internet withdrawal!
6 pm - Still no power.
7 am April 17
Got home around 9:30 last night and the end of the road was open, which meant no detour through the girls’ camp. That was interesting going out last night, two lanes of traffic on a wet, muddy, narrow road. We saw a lot of damage on our trek to meet some friends for conversation and commiseration. Wendy’s at the circle was closed due to a sink hole in their parking lot. The supermarket there had both drives into the plaza blocked due to washouts and high water.
We turned off the generator for a while last night to give it a rest and save gas (and pollution). Turned it on around 4 am so I could have hot water for a shower when I got up.
My husband went out this morning to get a newspaper and said the tree on the wires was gone, but no sign of repair yet. I am going to work today, I know how I can get there, and will have some limited internet access there. No personal e-mail yet, and a lot of the sites I read regularly to get the real news are blocked (I think DailyKos had too much traffic in the run up to the election so they blocked it, and other blogs, we are still running many offices off a satellite system). But at least I can catch up a bit.
The IRS has given us in the Northeast a two day extension to file taxes. I got mine in over the weekend, but need to check to make sure the money I owed (yuck, I hate financing these people) was debited from my account yesterday. (I don’t mind paying taxes, I figure we are better off pooling our resources than everyone going it alone, by far, but I really mind financing Bush taking my country apart!)
Got home to find cable and Internet (whoosh, sigh of relief) working, but land line phones not, except in town. Verizon switching station for our area is flooded, so we can call in town, but not out, and no one outside of town can call us. Cell phone reception is not great at our house, but workable.
Cable and Internet down again. Called the company, “due to weather issues, service out in the following towns...” Roads are out, phones are out, cable is out, wonder if the power will stay on.
I keep thinking about climate change and wonder if the weather will just get worse. NH weather has been changing recently, and one of the changes has been a number of nasty spring and fall floods that cause large amounts of damage. More rain, more wind, insects and plants migrating north, don’t you even try to tell me this is just a regular weather cycle. I have been in New England a great deal of my life, I am 64, and this is very, very different.
I can put up with a certain amount of change, even at my advanced age, but I find I worry most about losing my internet access. I am so used to using e-mail for everything now, keeping in touch with family and friends, doing community work and political networking, sharing information and laughter. And I pay bills on line, read the news on line, do research on line. But if we keep destroying our infrastructure this way, which is what floods and wind do, how will we be able to keep internet access going? Maybe I should look into using my cell phone? But my reception is not good here.
6 am April 18
Cable and Internet back this morning. All kinds of messes here in NH, flooded homes, dams we are worrying about with people living downstream, roads and bridges damaged or gone. If you want to see some local news and pictures from my area, try our citizen journalism paper http://www.forumhome.org/. My husband is going out today to take pictures of our town for them.
Heard from my brother who stopped in at the family summer house on the coast of Maine yesterday, no real damage but we are blessing the instincts which told my parents to take down all the big spruces around the house. A leak or two. I remember living through a couple of hurricanes at that house near Bath, near the end of one of the many points sticking down into Casco Bay, in the 1950s, I was around 10 years old. The soil is very sparse there, a few inches over the bedrock, so trees spread their roots along the surface and when the wind hits a big spruce, the ground literally rocks up and down as the tree sways. Terrifying, especially when the tree is right next to the house.
I hope this is the end of my personal story of this flood. Sounds like the phones won’t be right for some time, all the equipment at the switching center will need to be replaced, I hear. Hope all is well with everyone.