This weekend wasn’t Peter Hartz’s first experience with flooding.
The past few days have marked the third time in his 28 years living on Brook Street in East Keene that he’s dealt with water entering his home due to a storm. Even so, he wasn’t too worried, with the nearby Beaver Brook seeming to stay level.
“We woke up [Sunday] with 3 inches of water in the basement. Not a big deal, thinking it’ll go down,” he said Monday. “... But this morning, I woke up, and the water level had gone up. Now it’s 6 or 7 inches deep, and I think I may have lost my water heater.”
Hartz’s was just one local household of many that were affected by a slow-moving storm that dumped more than 5 inches of rain — nearly 8 inches in some areas — over the Monadnock Region between Saturday and Sunday.
Roadways, yards, basements and parking lots flooded in communities in New Hampshire and Vermont. Emergency-response personnel reported a high volume of calls on Sunday but said things had begun to calm down by Monday morning.
In his own home, Hartz said any damage from this weekend’s storm is less flooding than in years past. The other two times, he’s had to replace most of his basement appliances, such as his washer, dryer and furnace, as well as his electrical panel.
Nevertheless, he said this doesn’t make the flooding any easier to deal with.
“We still don’t have hot water,” Hartz said late Monday afternoon. “I will have to call the gas company; it’s going to be expensive.”
Also in East Keene, at least one resident on Boston Place — a dead-end road off Baker Street — chose to be evacuated due to flooding.
Randy and Barbara Beaton, who have lived on the road for 20 years, stayed put, though they still had to deal with the fallout of the bad weather.
“I checked the basement and backyard at like 3:30 in the morning [on Sunday], and the backyard was a small pond in the lower part, and the basement had not a drop,” Barbara Beaton said. “And then I woke up at 6, and it was bad.”
Like Hartz, this is the couple’s third time dealing with flooding. Randy Beaton said their “entire backyard” was submerged, and there was 2 inches of water in the basement Sunday.
By the next morning, the Beatons had vacuumed up most of the water. Some items were destroyed, the couple said, but nothing of significance.
Keene Fire Chief Mark Howard said his department responded to about 50 calls on Sunday, more than 20 of which were service calls related to flooding, including basements.
Most road-related damage was along the sides of roadways, according to Howard, who said Monday morning that the city’s Public Works Department was working to address those issues. He added that he wasn’t aware of any “catastrophic damage” on city streets.
Over the course of the storm and its immediate aftermath, Howard said at least two Keene residents were evacuated from their homes: one on Wetmore Street, where a building had 6 feet of water in its basement near an electrical panel, and the home on Boston Place, where the resident opted to evacuate.
Howard said there may have been a second person on Boston Place who also chose to evacuate, but he wasn’t certain of this.
Though Barbara Beaton said the flooding her family dealt with is nothing compared to what neighbors experienced, it’s still frustrating.
“We just really feel the city needs to look at this end, the East Side, not just our street,” she said. “It’s happening too often.”
Jaffrey, which was one of the hardest hit towns in the Monadnock Region with more than 7 inches of rain, was also still dealing with flooding early Monday, according to a news release from Town Manager Jon Frederick. Crews managed to open most town roads with at least one lane for traffic before Sunday evening, the release says, and work was underway Monday to restore all of them fully.
The one road that remained closed was Sawtelle Road, which was damaged, along with a culvert that failed, and will need to be replaced.
“Town staff are working with bridge engineers to [effect] an emergency replacement of the damaged culverts,” the release says.
Winchester was also hit hard by the storm, leading to the evacuation of five homes on Old Westport Road, according to Fire Chief Barry Kellom.
Power was cut to buildings between 80 and 144 Main St., he said, and would remain off until the water recedes. The area was still under water as of Monday afternoon, and the extent of the damage won’t be known until the water goes down, he said.
The parking lot at Kulick’s Market had been flooded since overnight Sunday into Monday morning, according to Kellom. Volunteers arrived with sandbags to help keep the water from damaging the businesses in the area.
“We’ve been monitoring it,” Kellom said. “It’s not rising, but it’s not going down either.”
He said the fire department had responded to about 20 flooded basements since the storm started. But he wasn’t aware of any significant structural damage to any buildings.
Though no one had needed it by Monday afternoon, Winchester set up a shelter at the ELMM Community Center on Durkee Street, according to N.H. Rep. Jennifer Rhodes, who lives in town and also represents Swanzey, Troy and Marlborough. She said those evacuated from Old Westport Road were able to stay with friends or family.
Aubuchon Hardware on Warwick Road in Winchester closed Monday due to “severe flooding,” it announced in a Facebook post. Aubuchon staff couldn’t be reached Tuesday morning for more information on the closure.
Swanzey saw significant flooding, but made it through with minimal damage, said town Public Works Director Joe DiRusso. As in Keene, he said, the bulk of problems were road related, specifically road shoulders where water had eroded the pavement.
DiRusso said Swanzey crews were out doing an inventory of roads on Monday morning, now that the water had receded sufficiently in most places to get a better look. As of that time, he said the only street in Swanzey still closed was Carlton Road, which needs repair work that is expected to be completed over the next few days.
“Within a week, we hope to be back to where we were before the storm,” he said. Other damaged roads had already been repaired and reopened, he said.
A handful of homes in Swanzey required assistance from the fire department to pump out their basements, according to Fire Chief Bill Gould. However, only one home needed to be evacuated, which took place around midnight between Sunday and Monday when the Swanzey and Keene fire departments helped rescue three adults and a dog from a house surrounded by water on Causeway Road.
Gould also noted that there had been some damage to state roads, and he wasn’t sure whether the town would have to request FEMA assistance.
Officials from the N.H. Department of Safety’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management office have been in contact with representatives from each community affected by the flooding and will review damage assessments over the next few days, according to agency spokeswoman Vanessa Palange.
Palange said the state must have at least $2 million in damages to be eligible for federal disaster relief. If that threshold is reached, she said Gov. Chris Sununu would likely request that President Joe Biden issue a major disaster declaration, releasing funds for individual aid and infrastructure repairs.
State officials are working with local communities to “make sure they have access to the resources they need as they recover from the flooding,” Palange said Tuesday morning.
On the eastern end of the Monadnock Region, Fire Chief Ed Walker said Peterborough will also be facing some road repairs in the months ahead. While he said only a handful of people called for assistance with flooding at their homes, a number of roads washed out due to the rain.
There was also some damage to culverts that will need to be addressed, including one that blew out on Old Jaffrey Road.
The biggest concern is Old Town Farm Road, where flooding not only temporarily stranded 18 families on the dead-end street over the weekend but also damaged the road enough to effectively make it one lane. Walker said “it will be weeks” before the roadway is restored.
This happened because the ground became saturated very quickly, and instead of being absorbed, the excess rainwater ran downhill, which Walker said undermined the road’s integrity.
“Old Town Farm Road is going to be huge,” he said. “There’s 200 feet of roadway where the lane is missing.”
Meanwhile, back in Keene, Gina Kovacs of Woodburn Street had flooding in her partially finished basement. About 4 inches accumulated there over the weekend, ruining a few area rugs.
“Yesterday was spent trying to find another [submersible] pump, which was hard because even Home Depot had nothing yesterday,” Kovacs said Monday. “We got the fans and a dehumidifier, and it’s coming along.”
As of Monday morning, she said she wasn’t sure how significant the damage will be to her foundation or other items in the basement. And like the Beatons and Hartz, she said this isn’t her first go-around with flooding issues in her home of 17 years.
“It’s a nuisance,” Kovacs said.
She added that she stayed home from work Monday to keep an eye on the basement, worried that her sump pump may stop working or that more flooding would occur.
“I heard the rain last night,” she said, “and I now understand how people have PTSD.”