Thousands of Seacoast residents were without power late Monday, but officials say the hurricane pales in comparison to past storms and tidal events
By Kyle Stucker
Hampton-NorthHamptonPatch.com, October 30, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of Hampton-NorthHamptonPatch.com.]
Hampton and North Hampton area officials were busy Monday attending to a variety of emergencies as well as reports of locals doing foolish things during Hurricane Sandy, but overall officials say they've seen worse in recent years.
Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said Hampton experienced more widespread outages and road closures during Snowtober, and said even recent regular tidal events created greater flooding than Sandy could muster Monday.
Low-lying areas like Brown's Lobster Pound in Seabrook, and west of Ashworth Avenue on Hampton Beach reportedly had flooding events, but Sullivan said he isn't "overly concerned about any amount of substantial flooding" in Hampton over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday due to the storm.
Forecasts for the storm warn of possible flooding, although other officials told Patch that not much flooding is expected.
Hampton's largest period of power outages occurred around 3 p.m. Monday, partially due to when a power line toppled and began arcing on High Street near Zesto's Pizza. Roughly 3,500 people were without power at the time, said Sullivan, who added that the outages fluctuated for much of the afternoon, from as low as 132 in the early evening to around 2,300 at 10:30 p.m.
High Street was still closed as of 11 p.m. Monday because crews were waiting for the storm to lessen before making repairs, according to Unitil. Timber Swamp road was also closed Monday due to a downed tree that created arcing on a power line, while Exeter Road just west of Towle Farm Road was temporarily closed and reopened due to a downed tree, according to Hampton police.
North Hampton's peak outage period was around 10:30 p.m. Monday, when roughly 1,000 customers on Birch Road, Walnut Avenue and in other areas of town reportedly lost power, according to Public Service of New Hampshire. The town suffered other power outages and downed trees, but for the most part didn't begin seeing significant problems until late Monday.
As of 6 p.m., only three people had received services at the hurricane shelter opened Monday at North Hampton School to help residents weather Sandy.
Seabrook saw the most power outages out of the southern Seacoast communities Monday, with upwards of 4,000 and 5,000 customers without power during periods of the afternoon and around 11 p.m., according to Unitil. Hampton Falls had 930 customers without power around that time, according to Unitil.
Overall, Sullivan said his department was "active" with calls for service Monday, but said the overall number of road closures and emergencies seemed below Snowtober and past major storms.
"We've had very infrequent calls from folks looking for additional assistance," said Sullivan.
Sullivan and other area police officers said Monday night that they expected much of the storm to lessen not long after high tide around midnight on Tuesday, which will allow utility crews to assess the damage, formulate a work plan and work to restore power around the area Tuesday morning, beginning with the most at-risk areas.
Area safety officials will turn their attention Tuesday to dealing with hazards caused by limbs that came down overnight, as well as responding to any all calls that come in.
"Our chief concern is keeping areas safe around downed wires," said Sullivan.