As New Hampshire continues to reel from the ice storm and blizzards that practically destroyed our great state, yet another bad weather blow gave us a blind sided one two punch. Weather, as news, may not get too many people worried or excited. However, when you consider all that New Hampshire has been through thus far and what this bad weather is doing to our economy and our residents you will understand why New Hampshire residents are extremely worried. And you will understand why all eyes are turned to the skies and local weather stations. So what has happened since Doc’s last report on the terrible history making weather problems plaguing New Hampshire? Let’s take a look at this past weekend and the weekend prior to that. Then we will fast forward to Tuesday, January 20th, 2009.
On Sunday, January 11th we awoke to yet another blizzard. My daughter was hosting a sleepover so I had a good 7 kids that were not mine. A worrisome situation in deed. As the day progressed we hung tight to the news and held our breaths. Fears that what happened in the last storm would happen again crossed everyone’s minds. Some children came to me and asked how I would get them to school tomorrow should they be stuck here. Some asked what would happen if school was canceled altogether and their parents couldn’t pick them up. Others worried about the electric going out like it did on the past storm. I tried to reassure everyone that they would be home before Monday morning, although I myself was harboring the same worries. On WMUR Channel 9 News, it was reported that a 59 car pile up had occurred on I93 in Derry New Hampshire, sending 12 persons to area hospitals. That just gave me, as the adult, more worries about these kids and their parents. But our worries were for not. Somehow, brave parents slowly made their way to our home, gathering children, one by one. By 5pm we had only 3 children, not my own, left. Luckily the snow had stopped leaving a good 6 inches or more in our drive. My husband quickly gathered the remaining children and got them home safely.
In the morning, Monday, January 12th, I ventured outside to bring my daughter to school. Before me was a winter wonderland of huge snow banks, snow covered trees and a road that resembled more of a cow path then a road. Slowly we made our way to school, each of us silently praying that this would be the end of the madness. Oh how wrong we would be. On the way home from dropping my daughter, Frank FM 104.9 went from music to breaking news. A man, in his 60s had been found dead in his home, a victim of the power outages. His lifeless body was still hooked to his non-functioning breathing machine. I cried as I completed my trip home. I thought of my dear friend, Mr. Ames and his breathing machine. Then I thought of my husband who would be turning 63 this year. My only two questions that I shouted into the now empty void of the Ford Ranger were, “Why God? Why is this happening to us?” Day by day and hour by hour the weather evolves from worse to deadly worse. And every day another innocent victim is dead or injured. Enough is enough already!! Apparently God didn’t agree with me because the worst was yet to come.
We awoke on Thursday, January 15th, to cold that seemed to penetrate into your very soul. After dropping my daughter at school I drove by Meredith Village Savings Bank in Ashland New Hampshire. There the thermometer stated, 12 degrees. “Wow!!”, I thought to myself as I continued the trip home. Little did I know that that was going to be an understatement of epic proportions!! That night our dryer, in the basement, stopped working.
The next day, Friday, January 16th, our washer followed suit. Looking at the temperature gauge outside our house I could tell why. It was a balmy 40 below zero!! My husband asked me to come downstairs to the finished basement to see if we could figure out a way to heat it and unthaw the pipes. We had removed the old stove pipe to make way for the new addition so we needed to figure something else out. I obliged him and headed down the stairs, taking note of the ice hanging from the doorknob of the back door. What I found in the family room left my mouth agape. Our stove was hanging with ice and the water that mysteriously appeared on the floor after the ice storm was frozen into what looked like an ice skating rink of sorts. Horrified, I reached out and touched the ice on the stove. It was so cold it made my finger feel as if it were frost bit instantly. In the closet, just off of the family room, ice was hanging heavy from the walls. Exasperated and past emotional exhaustion I turned to leave and almost fell on my butt because of the ice on the floor. I wanted to cry but I really didn’t have any tears left in me anymore so I sat at my computer, glassy eyed and unable to grasp what was going on around me.
A knock came at the door soon after. It was my friend, Barbara Santiano, and her friend. They had stopped by to check on us because of the recent death of my grandmother. We told her all the problems we were having and explained that we suspected that we had a frozen pipe somewhere. She left, and without telling us, she went to our neighbor, a mutual friend, and explained the situation to her. Within a few minutes our neighbor, Kathy Roos, arrived with a heater and a blow-dryer. Soon our washer was working again but our dryer remained dead. Here I would like to note a thank you to Barbara and Kathy for their dedication in lending a hand to a neighbor/friend in need. This kind of helping hand attitude is exactly what Governor Lynch and the Department of Homeland Security are asking of all residents in our weather torn state. Everyone needs a friend/neighbor like these two!!
Kathy left the heater with us overnight which took our home’s internal temperature from a mere 50 degrees up to a steamy 65 degrees. It was as if the cold was literally penetrating the walls of the home making heating it impossible. After talking to a friend in Manitowoc, WI, I found that she was having similar difficulties with the cold there. In New Jersey, my grandmother’s funeral procession, according to my Dad, Dr. George J. Luciano and my Aunt, Anita Mulligan, was being slowed by severe snow, an unusual occurrence for that particular area. The entire night was spent hearing popping sounds coming from the walls as boards froze and twisted from the cold. It was as if the house had taken on a life of its own, breathing and moving of its own accord.
Saturday, January 17th, dawned a little brighter. The outside temperature was now at 10 degrees above zero and our house was 68 degrees inside. Hunkering down for a day spent in the warmth of the quilts on our bed, we gathered up the family and turned on the TV. The entire day was spent trying to get warm and simply trying to survive. Silently I wondered to myself, “What’s next and how can we handle any more of this?”
My answer came Sunday, January 18th with a major blizzard. Once again we were being pelted with large amounts of snow, a good 12 inches or more to be exact. The distinction between road and ditch and lawn soon became blurred. Along with this, reality was becoming blurred for many residents. The reality of living life, day to day had turned into a reality of trying to fight for survival, day to day. Life went from normal worries like getting the kids to school on time to worries such as, how full is the pantry in case you got stuck in the house for a few weeks. Yes folks, New Hampshire is in survival mode. For how long remains to be seen. And with every storm comes the cleanup. Cleanup that New Hampshire can no longer afford. The states budget has been blown on sand, plow truck rentals, road repairs and salt. Now we are at the mercy of the US government and FEMA.
However, the damage is much farther reaching then a few downed utilities and a few destroyed roads. The damage is hitting home for many. Many New Hampshire businesses, closed by the power outages, have lost this years holiday business. Something that cannot be recouped. Add that to the already failing economy and you have one of the largest unemployment rushes ever. I actually checked out the New Hampshire unemployment website and found a message asking patrons to be patient with their claims process as they were experiencing record numbers of unemployment applications. A very dismal thing to see after all we New Hampshire people have been through. This may sound really bad but it does get worse.
“How?”, you may ask. Well, we have businesses and homes without power from the storm. This leads to lack of customer traffic which leads to layoffs. The laid off employees then come home to a house ravaged and severely damaged by the storms. Damage that they can no longer pay to fix, especially if they don’t have homeowner’s insurance or if their homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover ‘acts of God’, as the insurance companies call it. And Doc knows what she is talking about because our home is one of the ones badly damaged by the storms. What can we do about it? Nothing!
All our life savings into this home and here is what we came home to……. On Monday, January 19th 2009, after grocery shopping, I noticed water on my counter, to the left of my stove. Thinking my husband spilled something I got a rag to clean it up. However, as I cleaned it up, I felt wetness on my head. Looking up I found water pouring in through the window sash above me. As I placed buckets about to curtail the damage my husband ran outside to see what was causing this. During the storm ice had accumulated against the front of the house. As the ice built it began to run out of places to go so it crept into the window sash and up under the siding. As the temperatures began to rise back to normal the ice began to melt. This is when it began flooding our home. Thinking we could handle this with a few buckets we picked our son up from daycare and had dinner. After dinner I looked towards the open bathroom door. My stomach came into my throat. Water was pouring out of the bathroom ceiling. Here too the ice had penetrated the walls and into the ceilings and window sash.
As of today, Tuesday, January 20th, the water continues to pour into our home creating more and more un-repairable damage. My husband and I broke the ice away from the front of the house and my husband cleared the roof but it refuses to stop, just like the storms. As I sit here, listening to the water drip and waiting to see where it will start dripping next, I have to ponder what is to become of New Hampshire.
Residents are reduced to living in homes with major damage with no hope of receiving another paycheck in this lifetime. Businesses and homes are being foreclosed on, one after another. State agencies are slowly running out of money to help. And many people are beginning to panic. The only advice Doc can give is to hang in there and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have something your neighbor can use to bail out of their problem and vise-versa, then make a trade or lend each other your services. If you have medical problems and need power for your equipment but have none, call 911 for help. If you have an elderly neighbor check up on him or her randomly and frequently. If you have a woodstove to heat your home in a power outage and your neighbor does not, invite them over for a hot meal and a shower. Together is the only way to get through this crisis. And, as usual, Doc will be right here, updating you as to any changes, good or bad, to the state of New Hampshire’s current situation. Good luck to each and every one of you. Just remember spring is right around the corner.