Area Experiences Flooding Damage
by Lynne Ober
The power of raging waters is difficult to comprehend until it is seen. In the aftermath of the torrential rains flooding our state, people are emerging into the sunshine to see the devastation that water can cause. Pelham has been harder hit than Windham.
Schools in both Pelham and Windham are closed for the third straight day. Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler said there were a plethora of issues surrounding both districts.
When she and the Windham Fire Chief spoke late Tuesday afternoon, parts of Route 28 were still closed and there were concerns in the Kendall Pond and Duck Pond areas. In addition Salem schools were going to be closed and Windham high school students were affected by that. Then the final issue was food. There are no kitchens in any Windham schools due to septic and well issues. Lunches are prepared in Pelham and delivered. “Of course, there is always pizza,” Cutler smiled, “but we had other issues too. When we build the new high school we will build a large kitchen and change our food service operations.”
According to Windham Town Administrator Dave Sullivan, things in Windham are clearing up. By Wednesday the roads were passable. However Castle Hill bridge in Pelham is no longer passable and that will affect Windham residents. “We have roads that need shoulder repairs. The fire department pumped about 60 cellars, but we are recovering well.”
During the storm, Windham had a voluntary evacuation in the Kendall Pond bridge area. “We opened a shelter,” said Sullivan, “and we had a few calls, but no one came so we closed the shelter the next morning.”
However, in Pelham storm damage and lasting effects are much worse.
”On Monday May 15, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. the Pelham Fire Department was dispatched to the area of Mammoth and Tallant Rd for two people in the water as the result of an overturned kayak,” said Greg Atwood. “One was extricated from the waters edge on Mercury Lane. The other was swept down stream by the swift water current approximately 3/8 of a mile, and was able to seek refuge by climbing into a tree. Fortunately both were wearing life jackets. First arriving units located the victim about 150 feet from shore. A rescue swimmer in a cold water rescue suit was deployed in an attempt to rescue the victim, but extreme currents and conditions inhibited attempts. A boat tethered to the shore by ropes was deployed. Two firefighters with assistance from manpower on shore were able to maneuver close enough to the victim to extricate her from the tree. Firefighters then pulled the boat to shore by the tethered rope. Both victims were treated for hypothermia and transported by ambulance to Southern NH Regional Medical Center.”
“Victor Danevich was in my car, when that call came in,” said Fire Chief Dave Fisher. “He was really amazed at all of the things that fire fighters are trained to do.”
All in all Pelham fire department participated in three rescues, worked with over 100 homeowners, sandbagged, removed branches from wires and dealt with smoke in a flooded basement as well as containing a fuel leak. “We were busy,” said Fisher.
Castle Hill Bridge and the road leading to it are damaged. Fisher doesn’t expect that Pelham will want to pay to open it. “It was a one lane wooden bridge and I don’t think the State would allow us to just repair it. I think it has to be brought up to modern standards.” Fisher hypothesized that Windham residents are probably more adversely affected by the loss of this bridge than Pelham residents.
According to Cutler, Pelham hopes to open its schools this week. “We are working closely with Dave Fisher. As soon as we can safely run the buses, we will open.”
However St. Pat’s will remain closed all week and even when it opens, getting to it may be a problem for some people as the bridge on Main Street is damaged.
State inspectors were in Pelham on Wednesday. While they opened Windham Road and the bridge on it, they did not clear the Main Street bridge for opening.
“Part of the road surface on the bridge is totally washed away,” said Fisher, who noted that he didn’t know if the state would try to repair the bridge or would decide to replace it. However, Fisher said that he expected the bridge would stay closed for a while.
Abbott Bridge is also closed. On Wednesday water is still running across the road leading to the bridge. “There hasn’t been any damage to the Abbott Bridge,” said Fisher, “but we can’t finish an evaluation of the erosion around the road leading up to it until the water recedes. As soon as the water recedes, we will get in there with inspectors and decide what needs to be done to repair the roadway.”
Willow Street bridge has opened only for car traffic only. Trucks are prohibited until the water recedes and engineers can determine if there is more damage under the bridge. “I hope that we will have engineers in to do a road inspection around Willow Street bridge this morning [Wednesday], but it may be a day or two before they can get under it. Once they determine the appropriate safe weight limit, we will post weight limit signs, but until then the bridge is only for cars.”
Fisher said there was a lot of damage to private homes. “A couple of homes had their foundations wash out.” Furniture and rugs were lost, but fortunately no lives.
One aftermath of the flood may affect planned construction on Tallant Bridge. “Right now that bridge is the only way to get east and west in Pelham for many vehicles,” said Fisher. “I don’t know what we will do, but I would imagine that we will have to coordinate work done on other bridges.”
Fisher was a bit chagrined at an incident that occurred at the height of the storm. “We were helping evacuate a home, got our own vehicle stuck in the mud and had to be towed and don’t you know there was a Fox 25 news crew with a camera right there.”
As the waters continue to recede both towns will continue to evaluate repair needs as well as continue to help residents.
Children at Mother’s Day Craft Hour Undaunted by Weather
by Karen Plumley
Many activities during this exceptionally soggy week were cancelled, postponed, or otherwise altered and the Mother’s Day Craft and Story Hour hosted by the Windham Parks and Recreation Department was no exception. The rain had other plans for the special Mother’s Day event, which was originally planned to be an outdoor occasion at Griffin Park. Windham Parks and Recreation Coordinator Cheryl Haas was one step ahead of the weather, and supervised the event indoors at Windham Town Hall instead. “The rain did not cooperate for us this time,” said Haas. It’s always good to have a back up plan for outdoor activities in New England.
In spite of the necessary change to the plans, the 18 children in attendance did not seem to mind one bit. They were too busy coloring and decorating wonderful gifts for their deserving moms. As part of the craft hour, the children made Mother’s Day cards and memory boxes that will surely be treasured. Haas also read some Mother’s Day related stories and provided snacks. To learn about upcoming events hosted by the Recreation Department, call them at (603) 965-1208.
Pelham High School Prom
Area News Group Announces New Production Manager
The Area News Group is pleased to announce that Jeff Rodgers, a Hudson native and 2000 Alvirne High School graduate, has been promoted to production manager.
The Area News Group produces two weekly newspapers with a combined circulation of 23,000: the Hudson~Litchfield News and Pelham~Windham News. Rodgers has been with the company for a year and a half. Rodgers began his tenure at the Area News Group as operations assistant. In that capacity he handled ad design and page layout, as well as website design and maintenance.
For the last three months he has stepped up, taking on more responsibilities in the area of production. With this change he is now the hands-on person who ensures that the paper gets to the press on schedule and that the editorial flow of the publications runs smoothly. The position of production manager is new. Previously, Editor-in-Chief Len Lathrop had handled these duties.
“Jeff’s growth over the last year and a half and his willingness to accept the rigors of weekly newspaper production is remarkable, coming from a computer background,” said Lathrop. “His transition has been seamless. I look forward to Jeff assuming a lot of my duties as we continue to grow and venture into new territories.”
Rodgers has an associate’s degree in computer animation from Full Sail Real World Education in Florida. This background has helped him in the technological aspects of his job at the newspapers.
“Essentially I’ve been moving toward this new role for awhile,” explained Rodgers. “From that first day, it was a natural progression to where I am now. Basically the papers are like giant jigsaw puzzles that you have to rearrange each week and put into place. That’s the challenge of the job – making it all fit together.”