Massive flooding in New England - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Massive flooding in New England

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Posted: Tuesday, May 16, 2006 2:25 pm | Updated: 4:29 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

There's been a deluge of rain in New England for four days, and there's no letup in sight. The torrential rains are washing out roads, drenching basements and overflowing dams in swelling rivers.

Governors in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine have declared state of emergencies, and the National Guard has come in to help.

So far, the flooding has chased hundreds of people from their homes and closed dozens of schools. There have been no reported injuries or fatalities, but the water was still rising.

"That's one of the most surprising things," says AP reporter Brooke Donald, who was in Methuen, Mass., on the border with New Hampshire. "There's a lot of water and nothing really terrible except for people's belongings have been destroyed. Last fall, we had flooding, and there were some deaths."

The rain was coming down Monday in pockets across the three states. Forecasters said the Merrimack River could rise past 60 feet by night, putting it at more than 8 feet over flood stage. The National Weather Service reported the total rainfall could hit 15 inches, triggering the worst flooding in some areas since 1936.

"It's going to get worse before it gets better," Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney said.

Is New England prepared?

asap's MEGAN SCOTT talked about the soggy forecast with Donald and New Hampshire-based AP reporter Beverley Wang.

What is the magnitude of the flooding?

Wang: It's kind of pockets all over the state. It's not like when I covered the floods in Alstead (N.H.) in October, where there was a scene of just total mass destruction. This is kinda of, wherever you go, you'll see big pools of water by the road. You'll see some roads eaten up. You'll see some neighborhoods with water, and then other neighborhoods not. So it's really all over the state. There's no central destruction point.

So there isn't a particular place that has been hit harder than another?

Wang: I wouldn't say so. They are watching some points pretty carefully. Right now I am Nashua, where the Merrimack River is supposed to crest an additional four to six feet overnight because this is in the south; all the water now is finally making its way down here. They're watching it. It's kind of a wait-and-see situation. It's moving all over the state. Last night, I was up closer to the Maine border, and they were watching a dam really close to make sure it didn't burst.

Is it raining now? Is there a distinct smell?

Wang: It's drizzling now, but it hasn't stopped raining since Friday night. It doesn't smell. It's not dirty.

What has it been like as a reporter covering the flood?

Wang: I have been wearing the same rain gear for about 24 hours. I have my rubber boots, basically just running around getting wet, standing in the rain. One good tip is to have a recorder, because your notebook gets really wet, so you can't actually write anything down.

What are the ramifications of so much rain?

Donald: Right now, one of the main concerns for residents is drinking water and plumbing. I think the (Massachusetts) governor announced earlier today that gallons of sewage are spilling into the Merrimack. There haven't been any boiling advisories, but certain towns are on alert to be careful about the water. Besides people's personal property being destroyed, towns are being affected because of the sewage.

How are the residents handling the disaster?

Wang: I don't sense any panic. Yesterday, I'm in Milton, New Hampshire, there's water gushing out of the dam. They have the command center and people doing their work, and there are regular civilians taking pictures because it's a spectacle for them.

Donald: I was just talking to the National Guard and they haven't had any problems evacuating people. People are being very pleasant and are doing what they are being told to do. Shelters aren't overflowing. In New England, many people don't really move far from home, so they can always go to their parents' house or uncles' house a town or two away. There's just a lot of traffic.

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