Hudson Woman’s Quest to Rebuild in Katrina’s Aftermath
by Maureen Gillum
Like many, Amy McMullen felt like her “hands were tied” sitting at home watching the massive devastation following Hurricane Katrina. “As soon as I was invited, I jumped at the opportunity to go,” McMullen shared, “I just had to do something to help.” Fortunately, her husband, Brian, and their two daughters, 20 and 18, and son, 16, backed her up 100 percent.
For the past three years, McMullen has worked as a part-time secretary in the Hudson Assessor’s Office. The 42-year-old wife and mother of three left her Hudson home on December 26 with several volunteers from her church, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and headed south to help with ongoing Katrina relief efforts.
Nearly five months into the aftermath, the media and public focus has drifted from Hurricane Katrina and its New Orleans’ epicenter. With the latest death toll at nearly 1,400 (currently 3,200 more still unaccounted for), and an estimated $75 billion in damages, Katrina is considered the deadliest U.S. hurricane in 80 years and the costliest one ever, according to the National Hurricane Center. In addition, more than 1.5 million people were displaced, more than 275,000 homes were destroyed, and 90,000 square miles of the Gulf Coast area were declared a “federal disaster zone” – nearly the size of the United Kingdom.
Funding her own trip entirely, McMullen met up with many other Jehovah’s Witness volunteers from all over the country to help rebuild a small town west of Gulfport, Mississippi, called Long Beach. “I met people from everywhere and we quickly became a family that worked together,” she reflected. “It was awesome to see people caring about each other.” In total, 3,300 Jehovah’s Witness volunteers are currently in the field providing assistance, with a goal of more than 10,000 to enter the Gulf Coast relief efforts in the coming weeks, according to McMullen. Jehovah’s Witness church donations also helped toward such Katrina relief efforts as building supplies, literature, and food.
With some experience in mold remediation from her Hudson church, McMullen was a valuable asset to her assigned “tear-out crew,” which specialized in the dangerous work of removing moldy dry wall, floors, walls and roofing to prepare the way for the next rebuilding team. Mold remediation is difficult and hazardous, as the required white hazmat suits and respirators she had to wear indicate. “Mold is tricky and costly stuff that can cause serious health problems,” explained McMullen. She and her team tackled tearing out four houses in the week she was in Long Beach, Mississippi.
When she wasn’t hard at work, McMullen toured the area, where she largely saw more wreckage. She also spent time with her Jehovah’s Witness host family, who she said were incredibly gracious, despite their own losses. Typically, the volunteer teams also gathered three times daily at the local Jehovah’s Witness Hall for great food and fellowship. “I made some long-time friendships,” she stated. “The experience was very interesting, and I was very sad to leave.” Though she has no immediate plans to return, Amy would “love to go back to help more and next time take my kids.”
In reality, much of the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama will take years, if not a decade, to restore. “We may not hear much about it anymore, but Gulf Coast people are still living, eating and breathing Katrina,” affirmed McMullen. “This was a major life-altering event; It will take them years to rebuild their lives.” Overall, while she reports many life basics, like electricity and phone service, are back, “the immense devastation and debris are everywhere and will be for some time.” For example, she noted they had just opened the interstate highway for the first time since the hurricane while she was there in early January. For more on Katrina updates and relief efforts, visit: www.american.redcross.org or www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/hurricane/.
In her experience, McMullen also saw hope in the resiliency and strength of the human spirit. Often amidst overwhelming destruction, uncertainty, and grief, she observed, “Amazingly, people have found a way to live with it all and are coping one day at a time; most are simply resigned to tackle this slow process of rebuilding.” As one Mississippi native shared with her, “You don’t really know what you can put up with, until you face it.” McMullen prefers the enlightenment of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says in part, "God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear."
Officials Meet to Discuss ‘RiverPlace’ Traffic Issues
by Doug Robinson
Local government officials, Hudson Selectmen, members of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, engineers from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, W/S Development, and owners of Green Meadow Golf Club met to discuss the RiverPlace, Mixed-Use Development project and its impact on local traffic.
The proposed development site will be located at the 375-acre Green Meadow Golf Club along Sagamore Bridge Road and Route 3A in Hudson. The site currently has two access points along Route 3A, according to the Scoping Meeting Outline.
“The proposed RiverPlace development will be a multi-phased development consisting of three major components: 2 - 2.5 million square feet of specialty and small to large anchor retail, restaurants, and a multi-screen theater, 600 – 1,000 units of multi-family residential, 300 - 500 unit hotel with conference center, and 100,000 - 200,000 square feet of office. The build out of RiverPlace will likely take place over 10 - 15 years,” according to the document.
The report also states, “As currently proposed, the project would include the construction of a new bypass roadway that will link Route 3A south of Stuart Street to Sagamore Bridge via a set of new interchange ramps. This new bypass roadway will divert a large portion of the traffic that currently uses the congested portion of Route 3A between Dracut Road and Sagamore Bridge Road to gain access to the F. E. Everett Turnpike. The proposed bypass roadway will also connect to either the existing Vectron Access Road or the existing Sam’s Club Access Road, or both, to divert westbound Sam’s Club and Vectron traffic directly to Sagamore Bridge Road.”
The proposed phasing for the construction of RiverPlace is:
The meeting was dedicated to discussing the increased traffic flow which will directly impact the Town of Hudson as a result of the construction and the building of RiverPlace. “Based on Institute of Traffic Engineers data a facility this large at full build-out would generate a significant amount of daily traffic volume: the initial phases of the development (2007- 2009) will generate approximately 30,000 daily trips with a total build-out of approximately 66,000 daily trips. However, since a large portion of this traffic is already on the regional roadway network, this traffic will not all be realized as new traffic. The total existing daily traffic volumes passing the site, including Sagamore Bridge, Route 3A north of Wason Road, Route 3A south of Dracut Road, and Dracut Road south of Route 3A, is approximately 80,000 (based on … data from NHDOT and NRPC).” The report also states that this traffic count is not new traffic as a large portion of traffic to RiverPlace is already on the roadways going to other facilities.
Superb Cuisine Enjoyed by All at Historical Society’s Potluck Supper
by Lynne Ober
The Hudson Historical Society held a potluck supper for its January meeting. The cuisine was delightful and historical – old family recipes were shared by members and guests who enjoyed the event.
Esther McGraw, Sue Misek, and Ruth Parker set up and decorated the dining tables in the Great Hall before members arrived. Delectable desserts were set up in the dining room, and the dining buffet was set up in front of a roaring fire.
It wasn’t long before laughter filled the air along with mouth-watering smells. Members chatted and viewed old scrapbooks set up in the parlor.
Before long, plates were piled high with food; members thoroughly enjoyed the homemade dinner fare.
After dinner, Esther, with the help of Ben Nadeau, presented flowers to Sue Misek and Ruth Parker.
“The food was great,” said Howard Dilworth.
“Better than great,” said Russ Ober, “I tried to eat some of everything and now I need a nap.”
The next meeting of the historical society will be the fourth Wednesday of February. All meetings are open to the public – come join the fun.
Selectmen Hire Eaglevue Technologies to Consult on Hudson’s IT Issues
by Doug Robinson
The Hudson Board of Selectmen agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Eaglevue Technologies of Londonderry, at the recommendation of Kathy Carpentier, Hudson’s Finance Director. According to the memo, “The agreement is for IT (information technology) Director Level at $6,000 per month for two days on site and more when needed.
“The agreement is for a minimum of three months, not to exceed six month,” according to the contract. According to Carpentier, “I feel it is in the best interest of the town to engage with this company as we migrate away from the VAX. By utilizing Eaglevue, we have a pool of resources to achieve our goals. Eaglevue has been instrumental in assisting us through his transition with the new payroll module.”
“This company has been doing the work the departed IT manager did before she left,” said Ken Massey, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “They have been doing extensive work on the VAX hardware and software. The transition was supposed to be next year.”
Selectman Richard Maddox agreed. He stated that work on the town’s computer system was “becoming a just keep it going … (And) … why have we not made the VAX just go away?”
The current VAX system in place at Town Hall is a DOS-based system which is not integrated with the current software in use by town departments. Originally, the town’s entire accounting system was established on the VAX system as it was the software of that time. As the years have passed by, Bill Gates and Microsoft have essentially made the original VAX system an obsolete system of bookkeeping. The memorandum states that “the current administration server is an old DEC/VAX server and has surpassed the end of its useful life cycle.
Town offices have approximately 40+ desktop computers which operate from a network of five servers. While some of this computer is running Microsoft’s XP software, other computers are still running an unsupported operating system in Windows NT, and all are running on an old version of Microsoft Office. As a result of these internal conflicts, the computers within Town Hall are unable to communicate with each other or with the necessary financial data which is required to run the town’s business.
The terms of the Memorandum of Understanding state that Eaglevue will provide:
According to Carpentier, “The $6,000 is approximately $1,200 less than the budgeted position for the IT manager who recently resigned. First, we must get off the VAX and centralize our resources.”
In the memo provided by Eaglevue Technologies, Douglas Bosteels, Chief Information Officer, stated, “As Information Systems have grown from a physical standpoint, Eaglevue has experienced that the organizations supporting these systems (VAX) in municipalities have not. Typically individuals/system analysts have taken on greater responsibility without obtaining necessary training needed for this added responsibility.
“This is currently the case with the town of Hudson’s IS organization. The staff has excellent system administration capabilities, however, the burden of the network has not allowed for development of all managerial skills necessary to support the town.”
Hudson’s Trash is Treasure for Waste Management
by Doug Robinson
Like most towns, the town of Hudson participates with its waste collection company, Waste Management, to collect household recycling products. Plastic, glass, specific metals, paper, aseptic, paperboard, as well as leaf and yard waste, are the recyclable items of interest to Waste Management.
While recycling is considered to be “the environmentally correct thing to do,” stated Kevin Burns, Road Agent for Hudson, the financial costs of recycling are $106 per ton higher than solid waste pickup.
According to documents provided by Burns, the cost to pick up household trash in Hudson is $117 per ton, while the cost to pick up recycled goods is $223 per ton, or $106 higher than conventional trash. “Bigger municipalities such as New York City have eliminated the pick up of recycled household waste as it has become cost prohibited,” commented Burns. “We currently pay Waste Management $296,000 to recycle our household items from curbside trash pickup.”
“Our trash is hauled to Lawrence, Massachusetts, to Recycle America, a company which is owned by Waste Management. The leaves we collect go to a landfill. Our current yearly contract to haul Hudson’s trash is $1,640,640. The breakdown for our trash is 11,000 tons of regular trash, 1,299 tons of recycled trash, 432 tons of leaves, and another 282 tons which go to our landfill. Recycled trash has consistently remained about 10 percent of our total trash budget for the past seven years,” stated Burns.
While the cost of recycled trash is almost double the cost of regular trash removal, the Hudson has realized a “level-funded” expense with regard to Hudson’s trash removal since 2002. “Trash removal has only gone up 2.8 percent over eight years, and I guess people are enjoying the program if the overall program is not costing us more,” stated Burns. Recycling is a voluntary program for the residents of Hudson, and the free recycle bins are available for Hudson residents to pick up at the Hudson Highway Department.
“We have been able to keep costs level funded because we keep very accurate records of our trash removal, the town of Hudson is honest, and our vendor knows up front exactly what they are going to get from the town of Hudson,” stated Burns.