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NH sees damaging winds, flash flooding as severe storms roll through Granite State

Union Leader Correspondent

July 17. 2018 8:10PM
Manchester firefighters pump out a backyard on Maple Street that flooded during a powerful thunderstorm Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

A tree landed on a car at Elm and Clark streets in Manchester's North End during a powerful thunderstorm Tuesday. (JEFFREY HASTINGS PHOTO)

Powerful thunder storms with heavy rain and damaging winds took aim at New Hampshire on Tuesday.

A storm that hit Manchester around noon knocked down trees in the city’s North End and caused flooding in several areas.

Hardest hit was the area around Clarke and Elm streets.

Power lines dangled precariously on North Bay Street after a large tree fell into overhanging wires. Another tree fell just up the block, completely obstructing Carpenter Street; a third fell onto a car on Clarke Street.

Firefighters and public work crews used chain saws to cut the fallen trees and lift branches off wires.

“It’s kind of spooky how it just hit this area,” said Leslie Bullock, who lives on North Bay Street. “It all happened really fast.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Derek Schroeter said it is too early to tell whether the intense local damage was caused by a microburst.

Just a few blocks away, on Maple Street, the wind damage wasn’t as bad but several backyards were flooded and a car became stuck in pooling water. It’s a common occurrence during big storms, resident Dave Scannell said, but the street filled particularly quickly on Tuesday.

It was “about 28 minutes from the first rain drop u til the street flooded,” he said.

Manchester received nearly 3 inches of rain.

Trees and power lines were down on North Bay Street in Manchester's North End after a powerful storm blew through the city just before noon Tuesday. (COURTESY/Tom Bullock)

The steeple of Crossroads Community Church in Bow was struck by lightning about 1:30 p.m. About 60 firefighters responded and quickly knocked back the flames. The main part of the building was left with water damage; no one was injured, fire officials said. 

By 5:30 p.m. Eversource was reporting 470 customers without power in New Hampshire, down from 4,303 four hours earlier. Most of the affected customers were in the Manchester-Litchfield-Nashua corridor and just west of Dover.

The National Weather Service posted a severe thunderstorm watch until 7 p.m. for Belknap, Cheshire, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham and Strafford counties.

Flash flood watches were also posted for Cheshire, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham and Strafford counties through Tuesday evening.

A Hooksett home was set ablaze after being struck by lighting about 12:30 p.m.

Fire Chief James Burkush said 4 Sandy Lane homeowners Dean and Helen Ward were able to get out of the house before firefighters arrived.

“Altogether it’s probably about $150,000 worth of damage, so it’s nowhere near a total loss,” Burkush said. “We were also able to save a number of personal belongings from the home.”

In Alton, a lightning strike is believed to have started a fire at 497 Muchado Hill Road about 12:30 p.m.

Deputy Fire Chief Evan Turcotte said the occupants were able to escape unharmed and no injuries were reported. Smoke and water damage made the house temporarily uninhabitable.

The fire, which burned a basketball-sized hole through the roof of the tan vinyl-sided home, was extinguished in about 10 to 15 minutes, Turcotte said.

In Hampton, Deanna Jordan was heartbroken when she arrived home to find strong winds had damaged the new wooden swing set that her husband, Hampton firefighter Craig Jordan, had been building since June for their two young boys. 

“He would work on it every night after the boys went to bed. Our kids are almost 4 and 19 months old. They have been looking forward to this being done for the last few days,” Deanna Jordan said.

Union Leader Staff Writer Todd Feathers and Correspondents Bea Lewis and Travis Morin contributed to this report.

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