When Hurricane Irene struck the Upper Valley in 2011, The Upper Valley Haven, an emergency shelter in White River Junction, was there to help those who had lost their homes. Al Carbonneau and his family were among those displaced.
A year ago Tropical Storm Irene devastated parts of Northern New Hampshire. One hard-hit business was the Crawford Notch campground, which was cut off from the rest of the state for three days by the storm.
Campground owner, Richard Garabedian, watched Tropical Storm Irene wash away 1.6 acres of his riverside campground, and the only roads that connected his business to the rest of the state.
He chuckles and says, "I still don’t sleep when it rains."
In late August of 2011, New England prepared as the storm barreled up the east coast. Though downgraded to a tropical storm, Irene was still daunting -- and deadly. To the surprise of many, Vermont was the hardest hit, with roads, bridges, and farmland badly damaged and lives lost. But parts of New Hampshire were hit hard as well. We’ll talk about how we’re recovering from this storm and what we’ve learned.
It was a year ago at the end of this month that Tropical Storm Irene hit New Hampshire and when it comes to the White Mountain National Forest there are still plenty of unwelcome reminders.
Sound of ground-to-helicopter communications…
That’s Erin Lane and she’s making arrangements for a helicopter to make a sweeping turn and then hover over a clearing about two miles up the Zealand Trail in a part of Bethlehem that is within the White Mountain National Forest.
Tropical Storm Irene’s heavy rains did more serious damage to trails in the White Mountains than any storm in decades, says one of the authors of the new 29th edition of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide.
“It was only a limited number of trails, but the ones that were damaged were damaged very badly,” said editor Steven Smith of Lincoln. “It was mainly restricted to the trails that run along streams.”
The White Mountain National Forest will be getting $4 million in federal funds to repair road and bridge damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene. But that will still leave the enormous recreational area well short of what it needs, an official said.
It is still a bit of good news for the economy of the North Country.
Some of the work will be done by WMNF crews but help from outside contractors will be needed, said Tiffany Benna, a spokeswoman for the WMNF.
The money is available from the Federal Highway Administration, said spokesman Doug Hecox.
In White River Junction, a melange of fascinating businesses face challenges recovering from Irene...but not nearly so great as the obstacles facing residents of West Hartford, many of whom lost their homes to the raging White River.
Just over the border from New Hampshire in Vermont, the Upper Valley town of Hartford was ravaged by flash floods from Hurricane Irene.
Business owners and residents in the villages of White River Junction and West Hartford who have lost everything are doing what they can to dig out from the mud and debris.