Last week Hurricane Sandy touched us up here in Northern New Hampshire with her wide rainy and windy arms. We weren’t in the direct path of the Hurricane, but on Monday we hunkered down, bracing ourselves for a wild and rainy night. We were fortunate to not lose power, although camping in our house would’ve been no big deal. We have a wood stove, plenty of fuel for our camp stoves, lots of blankets, flashlights, food and water. However, the one thing we do have to worry about is the rain coming down off the mountains. Our house is next to a brook that tends to fill to the max during these heavy rainfalls, and we ended up getting 8 inches of rain from Sandy (the most in the entire state from the storm)! And low and behold, the culvert filled to the max and our little dead end neighborhood was trapped.
Of course this isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time. Unless of course one of these storms could knock the culvert askew and we could apply for FEMA assistance, there is probably little chance the town would pay for a bridge. So, we’ve come to realize that this happens and we adjust. We buy supplies before big storms not because the threat of power outages, but the threat of being trapped just on the other side of a raging river!
The water subsided quickly (faster than last years’ Hurricane Irene) and life continued on. Gorham, NH is used to the threat of flooding. One river in particular on the other side of town regularly sees flood damage these days, the Peabody River. The work to fix the damage from Irene was completed just a few days ago, and Sandy’s rains probably didn’t help to stabilize the bank and vegetation that was installed. People underestimate the power of water, the way it cuts deep into the earth. In just a few minutes water can cut a channel through the ground several feet deep if the water is flowing fast enough. And water has done this since the beginning of time. It’s shaped all of our mountains in the east, both in the solid form (ice) and liquid form (water). But as humans, we are awestruck at how quickly water can damage our buildings and roads. How quickly it saturates the earth and causes 100 year old trees to topple over.
In Gorham, there is an evacuation road that leads up out of the downtown area because that area of town lies parallel and equal in elevation to the Androscoggin River. We’ve only lived here for about 5 years, so we’ve never seen it in use, but the gated gravel road is kept clear and plowed all year round and available as a rec trail. Since Lindsay is still getting over a bad cold and we have plenty of home projects to do this weekend, we thought we would just go for a short walk down this evacuation route. Parking is available off of Route 2 for the Presidential Rail Trail. But instead of getting on the rail trail, cross the street and walk down the gated gravel road.
The trail crosses the Moose River with a substantial bridge and continues on a slight decline down to the Gorham Airport. We estimated maybe 1.5 miles. The road has several benches along the way for the tired or contemplative. We passed a young couple with their young son on a bike and saw several hunters (muzzleloader season started today) heading back to their cars parked at the Airport. When we reached the neighborhood next to the Airport, we turned around and walked back up to Route 2.
A short walk, but it was nice to stretch our legs on such a crisp morning. We hope you all fair well through the crazy weather that Fall is apt to bring.