Hurricane Bob stories

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Batteries Hot Commodities Before Storm Strikes Region

By Daphne Sterling, RCN Staff

Hampton Union, Thursday, August 20, 1991

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

The pickings were slim by early morning yesterday for tape, flashlights, batteries and most other foul-weather supplies as residents prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Bob.

The Hampton Shop 'n Save was flooded with people, said store manager Michael Robidas. "We've been right out of control since 7:30," he said.

The store was sold out of batteries, bottled water, tape, flashlights, bread, milk, cold cuts, some canned foods and newspapers, Robidas said. The parking lot was filled, and cars were parking on the grass.

Arjay True Value Hardware on Lincoln Street in Exeter was busy with people preparing their homes for the hurricane. One clerk said the store sold out of size 'D' batteries by about 10 a.m.

Flashlights were almost gone, but the store had an adequate supply of tape for people to secure their windows.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Joe McCall said the service switched over to emergency power in anticipation of the storm. "We can't afford to go off the air," he said.

Hampton resident Robin Lawrence of High Street said since she was living inland, she was not concerned about taping her windows or taking extra precautions after coming home early from work. "I put in all my patio furniture," she said.

Robert Arakelian of Seabrook Beach said he and his wife taped and boarded up the oceanside windows on their summer beach home. Arakelian said yesterday he is not overly concerned about the storm. "We were in the blizzard of '78," he said.

Shaw's Supermarket in Stratham was waiting for a shipment of bottled water since its supply was bought out, store Manager Tom Liebenow said. Batteries were selling fast, along with can openers, canned foods, breads, soups, but Liebenow said the store would have an adequate supply.

People were still coming in at a steady flow by 2 p.m., he said, but not as heavily as the early morning hours. Liebenow said the store was going to remain open as long as weather permitted.

Seabrook Secretary of Emergency Management Blanche Bragg said a state of emergency was declared by the town manager and selectmen at 10:30 a.m.

"We are urging residents to use the Seabrook Community Center on Route 1 as a shelter," she said. The residents in the low lying areas were especially urged to take shelter in the recreation department, she said.


Beach Crowds Evacuated by Bus loads in Hampton

Hampton Beach Evacuated

By Daphne Sterling, RCN Staff

Hampton Union, Thursday, August 20, 1991

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

HAMPTON BEACH -- The sunny weather that attracted the usual crowds to the beach this weekend ended yesterday morning when warnings of Hurricane Bob prompted officials to order the evacuation of the beach.

For the first time, Hampton Emergency Management personnel broadcasted instructions over the Seabrook Station loudspeakers for a voluntary evacuation of the beach

Families staying for the week packed their bags and either drove home or took shelter in the Hampton Academy Junior High School, where volunteers from the American Red Cross were scheduled to assist.

Buses shuttled people from points on Ocean Boulevard, Ashworth Avenue and King's Highway at 9:30 a.m. Nearly all beach merchants closed early or did not open at all Monday.

Two additional rooms in the junior high were opened after hundreds of people crowded into the cafeteria with their bags of clothing and food.

Karen Chiasson drove to the school with her husband and children after hearing the announcement over the sirens. Her family was visiting for the week from Waltham, Mass.

She said the landlord of their rental cottage came to her door and suggested leaving. "We made the decision to pack cold cuts, drinks and as many board games we could think of."

Chiasson joked that she was trying to find a way to spend the day, "We were going to go food shopping," she said "This was better. This gave us something to do."

John Shea, his wife, Beth, and two young daughters were visiting Hampton Beach for the week from Milton, Vt., staying at the school because of his children.

Shea's father-in-law, Barry Goodrich, was not inconvenienced too much, he indicated, saying "A bad day at the beach is better than a good day at work."

Montreal resident Roberto Estrada was playing cards with nine members of his family in the back of the cafeteria. He said he intended to be back on the beach again Tuesday if the weather permitted.

Sretched out on the floor, reading magazines with her friend and brother, Lori Piniarsking said she was frightened of the storm when she first heard the sirens. "I was freaking out. I hurried and packed all my stuff and threw it in the car. I knew it was coming, but I thought it was going to turn," she said.

Philip Richards, town manager and emergency operations director said the evacuation would most likely remain in a voluntary status.


Hurricane hit harbor hard

By Daphne Sterling, RCN Staff

Hampton Union, Thursday, August 23, 1991

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

HAMPTON - Keith Obey stood by on the docks at KVC Marina and watched as a crane strained to pull his motor boat out of the water Tuesday morning.

"I hope it's totaled," he said, shaking his head. "After they go down in salt water, you start running into problems."

Obey and some 40 other boat owners found their boats damaged or destroyed after Hurricane Bob roared through the region Monday.

Obey said he came to the marina Monday night about 15 minutes after his boat sunk. He said he heard that boats were being knocked around by the high winds and came down to see what the situation was.

A tug boat had to pull his boat into the dock Tuesday from one of the outer slips, he said. "What can you do?" he asked, adding that he will have to wait until he learns what the damage is.

Bob packed winds in excess of 70 mph, knocked down tree limbs and power lines throughout the Seacoast.

An estimated 1,000-1,200 people took shelter from the storm in the Hampton Academy Junior High School after the beach was voluntarily evacuated. Winnacunnet High School had to be opened for the overflow of people from the junior high.

Seabrook Harbormaster Dan Gidley, who covers Seabrook and Hampton harbors, said about 40 boats at the marina next to the harbor were ripped off the docks.

Police officer Robert Campbell was at the harbor Monday night and saw the slips being torn from the docks with the boats when the pilings gave away. Waves reached up to about eight feet in the harbor alone, be estimated.

Some boats made it through the storm in decent condition, Gidley said, but a total of 12 boats were destroyed. "No dock would've held the winds we had down here," he said. "We were ready for it but there was nothing you could do. It's an act of God that can't be controlled."

Off the top of his head, Gidley estimated the damage to the marina could be "millions of dollars."

Gidley also saved a man who was carried off a jetty by the currents.

Valerie Parkhurst, owner of the marina said she was devastated by the damage. "We still can't find the words. It's awful," she said. A total of 60 slips were destroyed.

Parkhurst said the whole inner basin was rebuilt three years ago. "Other than eight pilings left in the water, there's nothing there ... It's all got to be redone from scratch," she said.

"It was miraculous that nobody was hurt," she said. "There were some people on the boats -- they barely got off."

The Hampton Fire Department responded to about 30 calls for live electrical wires down and fallen tree limbs. One tree reportedly fell on a house, reports said.

Hampton Town Manager Philip Richards said, "I don't know of any flooding damage or any serious building damage. We came out of it pretty good."

Surrounding towns also opened up their schools and recreation centers to people seeking shelter. At one point or another throughout the storm Monday, about 20,000 Exeter & Hampton Electric customers were without power, said Administrative Manager Jane Venne.

As of yesterday, she said, there were about 900 customers still without power. She estimated electricity would be restored by today and customers should call the office if not.

One of the harder hit places in the Seacoast was Seabrook beach, she said.

Seabrook Beach resident Charles Hayden said Wednesday he was angry his power was not restored by then. He said he was without power for 48 hours and had not seen one utility truck in his neighborhood.

"I asked them whether they wanted me to deliver the spoiled meat from the refrigerator. They wouldn't give me their address," he said of the power company.

Hayden said he was told he would have power back by Wednesday night. He and his seven family members were using candles and oil lamps and going to bed early. "We follow the sun if there is any," he said. "Fortunately, we have gas so we can cook." Hayden said some people renting nearby houses had to return home early from vacation due to the lack of power.

Venne said crews from Concord Electric Co., Green Mountain Power of Vermont and other contracted crews worked to restore the main power lines, then hitting the side streets. "Our first priority is to take care of safety emergencies," she said. Crews spent Monday taking care of live wires on the streets.

Electricity was out in several parts of Seabrook since about 2 p.m. Monday. Emergency Management Secretary Blanche Bragg said about 120 people used the evacuation center set up in the town recreation department.

Besides several fallen trees, the town did not sustain much damage. A tree did fall on one jeep, however, said firefighter Everett Strangman.

"The loss of power is dangerous for the elderly people." At night it can be a hazard, he said.

North Hampton Fire Chief Newman Goodwin said by the time the tree limbs are cleaned up and put in the dump, the expense to the town for manpower from the departments would be from $70,000 to $80,000, including use of equipment, overtime, and food for the evacuation center in the North Hampton Elementary School.

The town had flooded streets and about three incidents of trees falling on homes, but there was no major damage, Goodwin said.

About 50 percent of the town was without power for about five hours Monday and some residences were still without power at press time, he said.

With the exception of electrical outages due to downed wires, Rye did not experience much damage, Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Walker said.

The Wentworth-by-the-Sea Marina Cafe and golf club were still without power Wednesday because they are connected to Rye's power, said marina Administrative Assistant Mary Simard.

The Wentworth marina is actually part of New Castle's power, Simard said, so electricity was re-stored after about 10 hours Monday.

Not one boat was damaged during the hurricane Monday, she said. The boats did not feel the effect of the wind coming from the north since it was blocked by the Wentworth hotel, she said. "We were pretty much protected by everything behind us."

Gregg offers state's help

By Daphne Sterling, RCN Staff

Hampton Union, Thursday, August 23, 1991

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

HAMPTON - Federal and state aid may be on its way to Hampton_ and other areas damaged by Hurricane Bob, Gov. Judd Gregg said Tuesday during a stop at Hampton harbor.

Gregg arrived at the harbor by boat at 10 a.m., his first stop on the Seacoast before driving to Stratham to survey the damage from storms on Sunday and Monday.

Hampton and other towns may receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) if they qualify, Gregg said. There is a "high probability" that communities will get the federal aid, Gregg said, but he was not sure how it would be applied. The first step is getting damage estimates for each town.

The federal goyernment would supply 75 percent of the money and the towns would supply 12.5 per-cent, he said. The state would pick up the other 12.5 percent.

The governor also commended everyone for their efforts during the storm and sympathized with the personal damage that still has to be cleaned up. Gregg said he was pleased, however, that there were no injuries in Hampton.

The governor was in Seattle Monday. State Sen. Edward Dupont assumed duties at the state-house.

A state of emergency was called Monday at 1 p.m. and was lifted early Tuesday morning.

the storm left 82,000 homes in the state without electricity. There was significant flood damage, but no dollar figures on damage are yet available, Gregg said. Hampton harbor itself was left with 12 boats destroyed and 100 slips were broken off in the adjacent KVC marina.

The damage, Gregg said, was worse than hurricanes that struck the state in 1938 and 1954.

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