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Snowmobiler, hikers rescued from flooded trails overnight

New Hampshire Sunday News

January 13. 2018 2:04PM

A Jeep sends up a rooster tail of water as it drives through a flooded section of Waukewan Street in Meredith on Saturday. Heavy rain and soaring temperatures combined to cause significant snowmelt triggering flooding throughout the Lakes Region. (Bea Lewis/Sunday News Correspondent)

The combination of heavy rains and warm temperatures created dangerous ice jams that led to overflowing rivers and flooded roadways in several communities Saturday.

Now it’s back to the deep freeze. High temperatures Sunday and Monday are only expected to reach around 20 in southern New Hampshire, with wind chills below zero, according to the National Weather Service.

Among the hardest hit by flooding Saturday was Peterborough, where ice jams on the Contoocook River flooded roads and basements and left large ice boulders in some yards.

Brian Wall, Peterborough’s deputy fire chief, said the first call for help came in just before 4:30 a.m. A smoke alarm activation at a house on Grove Street turned out to have been triggered by flooding. “That was the first inkling,” he said.

About an hour later came a call for a woman trapped in her vehicle on Concord Street. A Peterborough police officer got to her first and waded through waist-deep water to reach her.

Officer Juan Lluberes carried the woman to high ground where both briefly were stranded by the high water, Wall said, until the fire department was able to rescue them in a pickup truck.

Twelve hours later, the fire department was on its 17th call, Wall said. “We had flooded basements; we had some electrical issues.”

One resident tried to drive down flooded Sharon Road and his car “floated into a neighbor’s yard,” Wall said.

He said the recent warm weather had loosened up the ice on the river, turning it into “a million ice cubes.” As those jammed up, they backed up the river, sending water and giant ice chunks over the banks.

Wall said Officer Lluberes, who is fairly new to the Peterborough department, is “really starting his career off right.”

On Jan. 6, Wall said, Lluberes rescued a woman from a fire. “Last Saturday, he’s carrying a woman out of a burning house and today he’s carrying a woman out of ice cold, rapid water,” he said.

The extreme weather was a factor in two rescues by Fish and Game conservation officers overnight Friday.

Early Saturday morning, searchers located a Pittsburg man whose snowmobile had gotten stuck on a flooded trail the night before.

And late Friday night, first responders and volunteers located a group of 10 hikers who had gotten trapped between two overflowing, fast-moving brooks on their way to the AMC Zealand Falls hut in Crawford Notch.

The hikers had planned on an overnight hike but called for help around 4:45 p.m. when they became stranded, according to a news release from the Fish and Game Department.

Personnel from Fish and Game and the Appalachian Mountain Club, with assistance from volunteers from Mountain Rescue Service, reached the hikers about six hours later. The group made it back to the AMC Highland Center shortly before 1:30 a.m. Saturday

Fish and Game said the incident was a reminder of how quickly and frequently the weather can change in the mountains, and the importance of carrying appropriate gear.

Around 11:30 p.m. Friday, Fish and Game also got a report of a missing snowmobiler in Pittsburg.

Earlier that evening, Edward Abdoo, 29, of Pittsburg had contacted relatives and a local dispatch center to report that he had gone out to check on a friend whose snow machine had gotten stuck in slush and water in the northern reaches of Indian Stream. But during the trip, Abdoo’s snowmobile got stuck in moving water as he attempted to cross a flooded portion of Trail 142 in the area of Terrill Pond.

His calls prompted a search for him by first responders from Pittsburg but he couldn’t be located. After Fish and Game officers joined the search, they were able to determine GPS coordinates from Abdoo’s cell phone.

Meanwhile, Abdoo had again called 911, reporting that he was walking on a trail in the area of Hall Stream. Searchers found him around 5 a.m., about 10 miles from where his snowmobile had gotten stuck, according to Fish and Game.

Conservation Officer Christopher Egan warned that riders need to use extra caution this weekend. “Snow melt and heavy rain have created water hazards along the state’s snowmobile trail system, even in far northern New Hampshire,” Egan said.

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