Irene delivers a glancing blow to Winnisquam region



Irene
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Tilton police corporal Merek Weisensee pitched in to assist public works crews and fire officials during tropical storm Irene last Sunday. After assessing all was safe, Weisensee lent a hand clearing a tree which had fallen across a road in Tilton as fire and DPW workers tended to other weather-related calls from the storm. (Courtesy) (click for larger version)
August 31, 2011
REGION — As tropical storm Irene encroached upon the region, local public safety officials were prepared for the worst, but were relieved to find only minor difficulties facing them over the daylong rain and wind event last Sunday.

In Belmont, Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director David Parenti reported everything went smoothly throughout the course of the day.

"It wasn't too bad. We opened up the Emergency Operations center at 9:30 a.m. and closed it down at 7 p.m. All the departments were staffed up, and we were quite happy the storm wasn't as severe as predicted," said Parenti on Monday morning.

Department heads for Belmont's police, fire and public works were expecting to meet later in the week to write a full report on what transpired during the storm. Parenti said they will also do an assessment for the future.

"There's always things that occur which you find you might do better the next time, so we will be reviewing that and see what we come up with," he said.

Police in Belmont said they handled twice their normal call load during the crux of the storm, but there were no major incidents. Operating under 12-hour shifts, they also had an officer designated for welfare checks on individuals they felt might need assistance with power outages, medical conditions and other circumstances. On the whole, though, Chief Vinnie Baiocchetti thought things went smoothly during the storm. He was also very grateful for those who heeded warnings from state and federal officials.

"People took the advice they were given and stayed off the roads, allowing us to deal with storm related issues, and we thank them for that," said Baiocchetti.

Tilton-Northfield Fire Chief Brad Ober said his department had a relatively quiet day on Sunday as well, dealing only with tree and electrical wire issues for the most part, along with a few alarm activations, which proved to be only a result of winds and weather.

"We ended up with maybe three road closures for wires or trees down, and outside of a two- to two-and-a-half-hour period when things got busy, it really wasn't too bad here," Ober said.

Northfield Police Chief Steve Adams backed up Ober's report, saying a ride through the town on Monday morning showed little damage to roads and other parts of the infrastructure in the town.

"Looking at all that happened in Campton and north of here, I'd say we came out of this pretty well," said Adams.

In Sanbornton, Fire Chief Paul Dexter said his department was busy on Sunday with 12 to 15 incidents from the storm, which kept two engine companies working overnight, but overall, felt things went extremely well in Sanbornton also. Roads blocked with trees or power lines seemed to be their greatest challenge, but as of Monday morning, only two were still awaiting clearance. One flooded basement was reported to town officials, and other than some minor repair work on Eastman Hill Road, everything else "held together" despite the sometimes heavy rainfall.

Like other towns, Dexter said a lot of time was also spent checking on people living in at-risk locations to ensure their safety as Irene made her way through the state.

"Residents of New Hampshire are very self-sustaining people, and we came through this just fine. I can't stress enough, however, how well the Sanbornton public works, police and fire departments all worked together. They did an outstanding job in getting everyone through this storm," Dexter said.

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