October 10, 2005

New Hampshire declares emergency after flooding

BOSTON (Reuters) - The worst floods to hit southern New
Hampshire in 25 years killed at least three people, forced
1,000 people to evacuate their homes and prompted the governor
to declare a state of emergency, authorities said on Monday.

Flooding triggered by torrential rains over the weekend
submerged a third of the city of Keene in up to 8 feet (2.4
metres) of water, while rivers in western Massachusetts and
eastern Vermont swelled to dangerous levels, emergency
officials said.

"This is a statewide flooding event," said New Hampshire
Bureau of Emergency Management spokesman Jim Van Dungen.

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch sent 500 National Guard
members to worst-hit regions on Sunday. He also set up a Red
Cross emergency shelter in Keene, although most evacuees stayed
in homes of relatives or friends, officials said.

"This is not New Orleans. You don't have a huge
metropolitan area completely wiped out," said Van Dungen,
referring to the damage inflicted when Hurricane Katrina
slammed into the Gulf coast on August 29.

Water levels were dropping but an evacuation order in Keene
remained in effect on Monday, rescue workers said.

Two people were found dead in an overturned car submerged
in water beside a road in the New Hampshire town of Unity, Van
Dungen said. Another person died in Langdon and four were
missing, the governor's spokeswoman said.

The Connecticut River that forms a border between New
Hampshire and Vermont overflowed in parts of western
Massachusetts, forcing residents in a flooded mobile home park
to evacuate and wiping out some roads, state authorities said.

In neighboring Vermont, rescue workers evacuated some 200
people from their homes after rivers overflowed. The water was
receding on Monday and people were returning home.

The National Weather Service called for scattered showers
in New England in the next 24 hours.