The sun was shining yesterday, but thousands of Granite State residents remained in the dark last night as they waited for utility crews to restore their power after Tropical Storm Irene.
Only a day after the powerful storm knocked trees and poles onto homes and cars, the sunny skies and warm weather were a stark contrast to the torrential rain and gusts that pounded the region.
In Southern New Hampshire, chain saws were roaring and utility crews from as far away as Quebec were at work. Closed roads reopened and electricity was gradually restored for many.
But in Londonderry, a community hit especially hard, toppled trees remained on at least a few houses and five roads were still closed late yesterday afternoon.
"We're busy with the cleanup today," emergency management director Kevin MacCaffrie said.
Trees fell on seven houses, he said.
"A couple of them had holes in the roof and a couple of cars were crushed," MacCaffrie said.
No one was hurt.
Tom Culleton and his daughter, Gabriella, 6, stood outside their home on Chapparel Drive, waiting for an insurance adjustor to arrive. A tall pine tree fell on their house, punching a hole in the roof.
In the family's kitchen, Gabriella showed where the tree broke through the ceiling.
More than 3,200 Public Service of New Hampshire customers in Londonderry, or nearly one-third, were still without power late yesterday afternoon, according to the utility.
Some two-thirds of PSNH's 4,800 Windham customers still didn't have electricity.
The emergency shelter at Londonderry High School closed earlier in the day as all of the 12 residents forced to evacuate returned home or made other arrangements, MacCaffrie said. It will reopen today from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for people who need to take showers, he said.
Trio shocked in Kingston home
In Kingston, the shelter at Sanborn Regional High School also closed as residents went home, Kingston emergency management director William Seaman said.
Seaman said even the fire station had to be powered by a generator after power lines were knocked down behind the building.
Kingston firefighter William Pellerin and a local couple had to be taken to the hospital when they received electrical shocks after a tree fell on power lines at 28 Rockrimmon Road. That sent 2,200 volts of electricity into the home, Seaman said.
The three were shocked when they touched a doorknob, he said. They were treated at the hospital and released, with Pellerin returning to work. The couple's names were not available.
Seaman said he rushed to the house after Kingston police Chief Donald Briggs received a call about a utility worker being electrocuted. Seaman found the utility crew was OK and spoke to the couple outside their home.
"That's when I turned around and saw the house was on fire," he said.
Firefighters quickly doused several small fires inside the home, Seaman said.
Flooding wasn't an issue
While floodwaters raged in other parts of the state, Southern New Hampshire escaped unscathed.
In Salem, officials were taking no chances, especially since the town has a long history of flooding.
Emergency management director Kevin Breen said officials kept a close eye of the Spicket River, which was to reach a foot and a half to 2 feet below flood stage yesterday.
Dozens of animals were evacuated from the Salem Animal Rescue League on Friday as a precaution. Besides scattered power outages and trees blocking roads, there were no major problems in Salem, Breen said.
Emergency management directors in other area towns also said they had no major problems other than outages and downed trees in roadways. Several said their communities were lucky compared to flood-ravaged Vermont and other parts of New Hampshire.
Windham was battered, but survived.
"We fared well," fire Chief Tom McPherson said.
At one point 17 roads were impassible or partly closed, he said.
Neighborhoods around Searles Castle were hard hit with downed limbs and wires. So, too, was the area near Windham Center School off Lowell Road.
"We had a good half-dozen trees come down," said Searles Castle property manager John Poremba.
One tree crashed through a mausoleum roof, Poremba said.
Fallen trees and downed wires closed 10 roads or streets in Pelham during the storm, all but three were reopened by yesterday afternoon.
Fire Chief James Midgley said about 1,700 customers were still without electricity, but most were expected to have power back by today.
Mack's Apples in Londonderry withstood the storm despite four trees tipping over, orchard manager Mike Cross said.
Crews should be able to pull them back up, he said. Some apples came off the trees, but there was no major damage in the orchard.
"We think we came through pretty well," Cross said. "We're feeling pretty lucky."
The storm left 175,000 homes and businesses without power and closed 200 town roads and 42 state highways, according to Gov. John Lynch.
National Grid and Unitil expected to restore power to most of their customers last night. PSNH and the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative said it could be a few days before all electricity is restored. That includes customers in Londonderry and Derry, NHEC said.
Staff writer John Toole contributed to this report.
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