(NECN: Jack Thurston, Lebanon, N.H.) - “It’s devastating,” sighed Theresa Craig of Lebanon, N.H. “Yeah. Pretty devastating.”
Craig was choking back tears Wednesday, after seeing what happened to her city Tuesday afternoon and evening. Her road, Slayton Hill, was hammered with vicious flash flooding. The racing waters were fueled by relentless rain. Four or more inches fell in a day; two of those in less than an hour.
Craig and her son, Albert, were evacuated from their home as the waters raced toward them.
“It was this wall of water that came on our property, and then we looked down the street and it was a raging river of rocks and mud that was just tearing everything up,” Albert Craig remembered.
Several dozen roads in Lebanon were damaged. Earth fell away in some spots, along with chunks of the streets, sidewalks and shoulders above it. Road crews rushed to make emergency repairs in places where it was possible to do so.
Some repairs, however, could take weeks, if not longer, said Lebanon’s city engineer, Christina Hall. Hall told New England Cable News that Slayton Hill is essentially entirely gone, along with the drinking water supply along the stretch. The earth underneath the road washed out, along with culverts, water mains and other infrastructure.
“This is much worse than what we experienced through Hurricane Irene,” Hall observed. “There’s pieces of the road where we may have four feet of roadway left, if even. And that’s not even safe. So it’s going to be a full-depth reconstruction of the roadway.”
Hall estimated a few dozen people live on the closed road, but said they are able to find their way out of their homes.
The Lebanon Fire Department delivered bottled drinking water to residents on Slayton Hill, and Chief Chris Christopoulos said he hopes temporary repairs can get fresh water to the neighborhood soon. He would not venture a guess as to when that could be.
“I don’t want to put a timeline on it,” Christopoulos said. “I don’t want to give anyone a false sense of hope this is going to be an overnight fix. I think the people that are here realize they’re in it for the long haul.”
Among them is Theresa Craig, who said her yard was badly damaged, but her house appears to have escaped the worst of the flooding. She told NECN she is extremely grateful no one was killed or injured in this assault from Mother Nature.
“We’re safe. That’s important,” Craig said, glancing back at her ruined road. “Everybody back there is safe. So that's good.”
The city of Lebanon said its Fourth of July fireworks have been canceled because the launch site for the pyrotechnics was too badly damaged in the flooding to be used for fireworks.
Other holiday celebrations, including a festival in the park and a fun run, are still scheduled, the city said.