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Flood Strikes Plymouth Community

By Dan Gagnon; For The Clock
On March 9, 2017

Flood Strikes Plymouth Community 

Dan Gannon

For The Clock

Water levels from the Pemigewasset River reached the Plymouth State University Ice Arena parking lot on Sunday, Feb. 26, leaving cars stranded and students, faculty, and the people of Plymouth and Holderness looking for ways to contain future water levels.

The flooding was caused by a four-mile ice jam up the river. The New Hampshire Union leader reported that this ice jam pushed water into the street and parking lot near the ice arena. As a precaution, residents living on North and South River Street were evacuated. “I don’t think the ice jam is going to let loose. It’s going to be too cold, but I think the river and the water should recede,” Holderness Fire Chief Eleanor Mardia told WMUR.

Students received text messages around 8:30 a.m. Sunday, telling them to move their cars by 9:30 a.m. Water levels continued to rise at a faster pace than anticipated, and by the time some students had reached the parking lot it was too late. Freshman Abby Brann was one of those students, who was told by a first responder they would take them to her car, but was forced to turn back. Brann was also denied the opportunity to walk to her car to retrieve it and was told that it would be towed. Her car was one of 60 cars that were left submerged in water. An additional 200 cars were towed from the parking lot, reported WMUR9. Students could be seen kayaking in the water, which covered some cars past their windshields.

Brann expressed her frustration with NH1 saying, "I was down at the ice arena before 9:30, and I still couldn't even get my car." President Brix offered school resources to be provided, but said students should file claims through their insurance agencies. Minor damage occurred to the school, which will be fixed over the summer, but a total estimate of property damage is still being collected.

By Tuesday, most of the water had retreated and the situation was under control. Now, Plymouth State and local officials are working together to try to prevent this from happening again. “Unfortunately, south of the campus and the town of Plymouth there is a large bend in the river and a bridge near Ashland where ice can sometimes accumulate. This is what caused the problems with flooding on Sunday,” said President Brix.

Gov. Sununu visited with University officials as well as other members of the community to access the situation. The Department of Transportation, DOS, Homeland Security, and law enforcement are working together to reduce future flooding. Some suggestions included the possibility of placing web cams in strategic positions and even using ice motion detectors, WMUR9 reported.

In the future, the school plans on communicating with students more effectively so that cars and other property can potentially be saved from water damage. 

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