- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 14, 2006

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Torrential rain forced hundreds of people from their homes in parts of New England yesterday as water flowed over dams and washed out roads.

The governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts declared states of emergency, activating the National Guard to help communities respond to the storm. Maine’s governor declared a state of emergency for one county.

In some towns, police and fire crews used boats to get people out of their homes and stranded cars after hundreds of roads were damaged. Others got around in kayaks. Some towns shut down, not letting anyone pass except emergency vehicles.

“The town is cut right in half,” said Glenn Laramie, police chief in Andover, N.H.

“It’s a very serious situation,” said New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, adding that forecasters were predicting 12 to 15 inches of rain by the end of the storm in parts of southern New Hampshire. “It continues to change and the situation continues to worsen.”

A dam in Milton, N.H., was in danger of failing, which could send a 10-foot wall of water downstream, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin. People downstream were being evacuated in the town. The state Office of Emergency Management said at least a dozen dams were being watched closely.

In Massachusetts, cars were pulled from flooded streets in downtown Peabody, about 20 miles north of Boston, and about 300 people were evacuated from an apartment complex for seniors. Businesses stacked sandbags at their doors, trying to prevent damage from water that at one point rose to waist-deep.

“I have no heat, I have no hot water, and my cellar is flooded up to its tippy top,” said Esther Gibely, who sought shelter at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School.

About 150 residents in Melrose, Mass., had to leave their homes after sewage lines were overwhelmed, backing up into houses, said Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

About 100 residents were evacuated from their homes in Wakefield, N.H., because of concerns about two dams in the area.

Officials reported a railroad culvert and embankment washed out in Milton, with train tracks suspended in midair. The local emergency management office in Hooksett said the town essentially was closed because so many roads were flooded.

Tom Johnson said water was flowing into the basement of his Salem home, where a pump that handles 1,500 gallons of water an hour was not keeping up.

In Maine, flooding was reported on 60 roads in the southern part of the state, governor’s spokeswoman Crystal Canney said.

Several shelters were opened across the affected region.

“We were just an average American family thinking about maybe a summer vacation this year and now we’re homeless,” said Yetta Chin, who sought shelter at a Kennebunk fire station with her husband, their three children and a dog.


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