By Ray Carbone
The recent area snowstorm resulted in scores of downed wires and tress, power outages, road closures, cancelled school days and a marathon work session for some town employees in the Kearsarge/Sunapee region.
“It was a lot of snow,” said Dennis Pavlieck, Newbury’s town administrator, “but we’re used to a lot of snow. We’re New Hampshire folks!”
Snowfall totals ranged between 18 inches in Springfield to 4-to-5 inches in parts of Sutton and Warner. The snow was heavy and wet, pulling down trees and tree limbs and dropping power lines, which caused electrical outages all over the area.
‘My department is a group of dedicated staff that took time out of their regular jobs to assist the community.’
– Dan Ruggles, chief of Sunapee’s all-volunteer fire dept.
Eversource, the company that services most of the local area, reported close to 100,000 outages around the state between Monday evening (Nov. 22) when the storm began and early Wednesday evening (Nov. 24); more than 60 percent of those were north and west of Concord, an area that includes many Kearsarge/Sunapee towns, explained William Hinkle, a spokesman for the power company. By Friday afternoon (Nov. 30), no local outages were reported.
Officials with the Kearsarge Regional School District said that the towns hardest hit by the storm were in the district’s northernmost communities of Wilmot, Springfield and New London. All district schools were closed both Tuesday and Wednesday, due to poor road conditions and power outages. On Wednesday, electric power was out at the district’s elementary school in Bradford.
During the height of the storm, reports indicated that virtually all of New London and a major section of Wilmot were without electricity.
The storm generally dumped more snow than was predicted, making for long day for public works and safety staffs in local towns.
“Our shift started on Monday night at 9 p.m., and went right through to 5 p.m. on Tuesday,” said Bob Harrington, public works director for New London.
Officials in Newbury and other local towns reported similar long hours for their road crews.
“The town of Sunapee received about 12 inches of snow that was mixed with rain,” said David Cahill, that town’s police chief. “We had at one point eight roads closed due to wires and trees.”
Jim Bingham, Warner’s town administrator, said four roads in his town were inaccessible for several hours and Pixie Hill, the town clerk/tax collector in Springfield, reported a section of Rte. 114, the town’s main thoroughfare, was closed until late Wednesday morning.
Cal Prussman, Newbury’s highway administrator, said that Stoney Brook Road was closed for most of Tuesday, and that Bowles Road was closed to through traffic for several days. In addition, the 50-plus homes on Bay Point Road, a dead end off the Sunapee State Beach access road, were temporarily cut off from the rest of the town on Tuesday until storm damage could be cleared.
Harrington echoed the thoughts of several town public work managers throughout the area, commending the work of his staff while thanking local police and fire departments for their assistance in the emergency.
Dan Ruggles, Sunapee’s fire chief, said his volunteer department responded to 29 calls of wires down, trees on wires, blown transformers, car accidents and providing support for the town’s highway department clearing damage across roads between Monday night and Tuesday evening.
“My department is a group of dedicated staff that took time out of their regular jobs to assist the community,” he added.
Ruggles and Cahill reported that Sunapee opened its safety service building as a warming station during the storm. “As a result, we did see a couple of residents take advantage of the safety service building,” Cahill said.
Throughout the storm and its aftermath, police officers did welfare checks on elderly folks and others who could be vulnerable during the outages, the police chief said.
This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspaper, published in Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, December 4, 2018.