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Gov. Sununu requests relief funds for October storm damage

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 29. 2017 12:42AM
Gov. Chris Sununu views the damage in Campton last month. (JOHN KOZIOL/Union Leader Correspondent)

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu is requesting a federal disaster declaration from President Donald Trump for the October storm that knocked out power to more than 270,000 homes and businesses in the Granite State, closing schools and leaving some people in the dark for days.

On Monday, Sununu sent a letter to President Trump through FEMA Region 1 Administrator Paul Ford in Boston, Mass., requesting he issue a major disaster declaration and provide federal emergency assistance for Belknap, Carroll, Coos, Grafton and Sullivan counties for the storm that brought heavy rainfall and strong winds across New Hampshire between Oct. 29 and Oct. 30.

Sununu’s request pegs estimated public damages associated with the storm at $5,889,549.

“As a result of this storm, the State of New Hampshire sustained widespread damages to state and local infrastructure including property damage in all 10 counties,” said Sununu in a statement. “This storm considerably strained state and local resources; it consumed staff time and exhausted available resources due to county-wide flash flooding conditions, strong winds, widespread roadway destruction, historical power outages and significant debris that restricted travel and emergency operations. Fortunately, there were no deaths or serious injuries associated with this storm.”

The storm — technically not a nor’easter because its winds came from the southeast, not northeast — produced wind gusts to hurricane strength on the Isles of Shoals (78 mph) and atop Mount Washington (131 mph). Many places experienced gusts exceeding 50 mph, including 59 mph at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, 56 mph in Portsmouth and 51 mph in Concord, according to the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

The storm ranks as the fourth-largest in terms of statewide power outages, with a peak outage of 270,000 customers according to the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission. Power was not restored to 100 percent of utility customers until Saturday, Nov. 4.

The duration of power outages led to a dozen communities opening warming centers and overnight shelters. Dozens of roadways throughout the state were cut off to emergency services due to road washouts, damages to culverts and bridges, and downed trees and electrical wires.

If granted, federal assistance would be available to government entities and some private non-profits providing critical services could be eligible for 75 percent reimbursement.

This would be the third federally declared disaster New Hampshire has experienced in the last seven months. Parts of the state received presidential declarations for a March blizzard and July floods.

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