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Joyce Endee

Woodstock man loses life in tragic post-Sandy incident

Otherwise minor storm effects felt in area

Last week’s roaring, fast waters of the Ammonoosuc were impressive in Littleton. Fortunately, the elevated water level did not cause problems for the town. The rains we received from the leftovers of Hurricane Sandy had their worst effect in Lincoln, where a building contractor, Eugene Brooks, was killed at a construction site. Darin Wipperman/The Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
November 07, 2012
NORTH COUNTRY — A Woodstock businessman was killed in a construction site accident caused by the remnants of Hurricane Sandy. The Tuesday morning fatality was the state's only loss of life related to the storm.

Eugene "Rusty" Brooks was the owner of Pemi Contracting, LLC. The business performed foundation work. Brooks lost his life while onsite at the Landing, a housing development near Loon Mountain Resort.

He was inspecting the area around a new house foundation when the accident occurred.

Brooks reportedly was working to pump water out of the area when the soft ground, saturated by the recent rains, gave way. He was swept down an incline for a total distance of two to three stories. The landslide included mud, water, and rocks.

A co-worker found Brooks and began CPR. Brooks was pronounced dead while he was being transported to Plymouth's Speare Memorial Hospital.

Theodore Smith, Lincoln's Police Chief, responded to the scene of the accident. "The ground liquefied beneath him," Smith said. The tragedy "shows the force that water has," the Chief added.

Lincoln's new Town Manager, Butch Burbank, said that tragedies like the loss of Brooks hit small communities hard. The first responders knew Brooks, and many in the community knew him as well, Burbank said.

"The odd thing was that I just saw him that morning over coffee," Smith said. He added that the responding ambulance crew knew Brooks very well. The crew took the loss of Brooks especially hard, Smith said.

The tragedy in Lincoln was our region's most serious event related to the big storm.

The Ammonoosuc rose early last week, but the raging river was not a threat to Littleton. However, the storm nearly washed away pumpkins from the Haunted Riverwalk jack-o'-lantern festival held on October 28.

Dave Harkless, the organizer of the festival, said that the storm led him to quickly get the carved pumpkins out of the river that evening. He said only two pumpkins were lost to the rising water.

Harkless said that hundreds of rescued jack-o'lanterns ended up as compost, rather than debris. He did not want the pumpkins washing up in Lisbon or further down stream. "I was pretty adamant about getting them out," Harkless said regarding the pumpkins.

Other rivers rose enough to barely pass flood stage during the storm. The Pemigewasset in Woodstock crested just over a foot above flood stage early last week.

Radio traffic reported some area fire calls after falling trees hit power lines. These mainly occurred during the afternoon of Monday, October 29. Although much of the rest of last week was rainy, the heaviest rains were out of our area by Tuesday evening.

We were spared major power outages or other difficulties that the storm caused along much of the Atlantic coast. More than 100 Americans were killed in the storm, with the biggest devastation in New Jersey and New York City.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
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