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15 evacuated in Derry during heavy rain; traffic slows; flash flood warning issued

September 18. 2018 1:31PM
Derry firefighters evacuate people during flooding caused by heavy rains Tuesday morning. (JEFFREY HASTINGS PHOTO)

DERRY — Emergency responders evacuated 15 people from four businesses on Tinkham Avenue in Derry because of heavy flooding Tuesday, as remnants of Hurricane Florence dropped between three and five inches of rain on communities across southern New Hampshire. 

Assistant Fire Chief Scott Jackson said the fire department used a boat to evacuate seven people while eight others evacuated themselves with assistance from the department.

Fire department personnel arrived at 9:30 a.m. and public works crews came soon after to try to reduce the flooding by opening manhole covers.

The affected businesses at 7, 8, 9 and 11 Tinkham Ave. were AMK Auto Brokers, Karl Gschwind Machine Works, NuDay Syria and Palaestra Gymnastics Academy.

“I’ve never seen anything this bad,” said Alan Kachanian, landlord and owner of AMK Auto Brokers. “It’s like a river.”

He said he’s owned the property since 1978.

Kathy Needham, founder of the gymnastics academy, said this is the second time she’s been evacuated from a building in less than seven days. She evacuated from her home in North Andover, Mass., on Thursday after a an over-pressurized natural gas line caused scores of fires and explosions in North Andover, Andover and Lawrence, Mass. 

In Derry, heavy rain caused an unnamed tributary that feeds into Horne Brook to overflow.

“Honestly, it’s not an area that’s prone to flooding for us,” Jackson said.

Public works crews walked through knee-deep water to clear any obstructions of the stormwater drainage system.

Cars parked at the auto dealership could be seen with water over the wheel wells. 

Alan Côté with public works said they found a discarded sign blocking a culvert pipe, which contributed to the problem. But he said the area’s drainage system was mostly just overwhelmed.

“It was a very, very heavy rain,” he said.

The water had largely receded by 2:30 p.m. and people were allowed back inside their buildings.

Côté said the water didn’t cause too much damage inside the industrial buildings. Some may have just had an inch of water on the floors. 

The town also experienced some minor flooding in the areas of Hoodkroft Drive, Windham Depot Road and Franklin Street.

Franklin Street, especially near the intersection of North High Street and Folsom Road, saw water as deep as 6 inches. That water was mostly downstream from the flooding at Tinkham Ave.

The remnants of Florence began moving in across areas of New Hampshire early Tuesday morning with heavy downpours, before clearing out around midday. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Cheshire, Hillsborough and Rockingham counties that expired at 2 p.m.

Unofficial results reported by weather spotters had Milford receiving 5.95 inches of rain, Salem four inches, Nashua 3.9 inches, and Londonderry reporting 6.25 inches of rain.

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