There were 20 responses to this week’s Tele-Talk question: “What do you remember about Tropical Storm Irene?”
What it reminds me of is I live in the best town in the Mount Washington Valley, the town of Tamworth. It is hands down the best town. I’ve seen this numerous times. I saw it during the ice storm in ‘98, the way this town pulled together. This town can put aside all its political differences, neighbor help neighbor, and it’s just unbelievable. Nobody has any idea what this town is made of until something like this happens.
I certainly do. I remember that good old Tropical Storm Irene. A friend of mine and I live on the banks of the Saco River, and I made the decision that we were going to spend the weekend at the Green Granite Motel. And we’re very fortunate we didn’t have any problems; there was no flooding at the house. But, none the less, it was time to get out of there. It was certainly one to remember. This is Bill from Center Conway.
This is J.J. from Conway. What a difference the year makes. I remember getting a call from my oldest daughter in Glen, saying that she was flooded out and the whole place was underwater and she was crying and everything. They took some rescue boats to go in there to take her and my ex-wife and her husband out. It was a bad day, I tell you. And hats off to the Glen rescue and the police department for doing their job. They’re professionals. I remember that call. It seems like it was yesterday that my daughter called me. And everything is fine now.
What I remember about Irene is the fact that we are a local family and we would go camping at Glen Ellis Campground every year because it’s so fantastic and what I remember most is Richie Goff being so concerned about the campers down there. On the morning of the storm he came and knocked on our door and said, “We suggest you leave.” And we took his suggestion and it was the best one. We live right here and we didn’t have far to go at all, and just the people at Patches and the Parka and the sense of community in Bartlett, where everyone was coming together and helping each other. And Tim Conifey and his crew, if was fantastic, the camaraderie in such a devastating storm. That’s what I remember.
Living along the Swift River, it was around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, I noticed a slight rise in the river. I went out to remove the furniture from the river bank and I noticed a huge increase in the depth of the river. I said oh, my, there’s something wrong here. And then by 1:45, it overflowed the banks and at 10 minutes to 2 it was up to our French doors on the first floor. We went and bolted the doors and the river rose and burst open the French doors and flooded the first floor with two feet of water. I will never forget this.
I spent the morning that I knew that storm was coming cleaning out all my culverts, making sure the water could move. We had no damage at my house or anywhere on my road because we all spent that morning cleaning out the culverts. It wasn’t until later, maybe even the next day that I went out and knew that there was so much damage done to so many other areas. I wonder if anyone else had bothered to spend that time cleaning out culverts if that problem would have been avoided as much as it was.
What I remember is that it took a storm of those proportions to get Conway town officials to enforce town ordinances. For 40 years, Conway officials just looked the other way at what was going on in Transvale Acres. It was a disaster waiting to happen, but town officials, both elected an appointed, refused to enforce town ordinances and codes, until state officials, including the governor, arrived on the scene. Then town officials beat up on the poor people who live in Transvale Acres. No town official was fired, demoted, reprimanded or voted out of office for years of incompetence. So don’t think anything has changed in Conway. Town officials continue to sit on their behinds, ignoring town ordinances and codes until another disaster comes along.
I walked with my neighbor, Steve, as trees complete with roots shot down the Saco like arrows from a bow. The water was so high, the trees were hitting the River Street Bridge, making the ground quiver. The water was rushing behind the bridge foundations, washing away the rocks and soil from under the road at the approach of the bridge. We stood back about 10 feet or more, and within minutes the road fell into the river at our feet. A man came by; he helped us close the bridge using caution tape.Steve Hemple, Stillings Grant.
My basement still has magazines damaged, clothing damaged from when the Swift River decided to visit my basement. So, for me, it’s a constant daily reminder of what happened last year.
We were in the storm next to the fire department in Glen. And our home was really ruined, and rebuilt by FEMA. Thanks so much and to all the people of Bartlett and so far away. People were just wonderful to us. Charlotte and Lynn Roberts. Memories fade but they never go away. People were just wonderful to us. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.
I prepared myself for Hurricane Irene as a Rhode Islander living next to Conway Lake area. In Rhode Island we get them all the time so it wasn’t anything I wasn’t used to but still it can be scary. My name is James Knowles and my black lab is Molly Malone. The day after the hurricane we went down to Conway Lake to go swimming in the beach area that is roped in. The dam was open and the water was flowing out of control under the bridge. The water literally shot up above the bridge on the other side, creating at least 50-foot drop down over the big rocks with major swelling of a raging river flowing into the Saco River. I walked over with Molly to the other side of the bridge to look at the water pressure, which I have never seen since I moved up here in 2004. My dog’s leash snapped off and Molly fell into the dam area under the bridge. I literally lost my breath and started to panic. I ran to the other side of the dam wall. I could see my dog fighting to stay up in the current under the bridge. She fought with such courage but was getting tired. I called her name so she turned around and swam toward me. I thought I would be able to grab her. Molly floated by me on the other side of the dam wall area, where I couldn’t reach her. I just jumped in the dam and grabbed her; fearing for her life I had to react. We floated up and down for a minute with my body constantly going under to keep my girl afloat. At that point, people heard me yelling and raced over to help. I knew I was in deep trouble because I was literally drowning holding her up. Then the dam sucked me under with a force of unbelievable magnitude. I thought I was going to die, being sucked down under, not going to be able to make it through the dam wall area, by getting stuck. All I could think about was about my family, dog, friends and how this could happen to me. It must of lasted 20 seconds but was the longest amount of time in my life. All of a sudden I saw light as I made it through the dam. I was so high up but now I must survive two more dangerous obstacles. The waterfall drop I estimated that day was 50-foot drop from up above the bridge down past huge rocks to the bottom. I came down hit my shoulder on a rock dislocated my shoulder. I knew it instantly, but kept calm because the river was going to drown me if I didn’t get out right away. I swam with one arm while I managed to pull myself out before the raging river would sweep me into the Saco River. I stood in shock, having survived three deadly obstacles trying to save my dog. I ran up to the top, with the most intense pain, to see if Molly was still there. She wasn’t there. I was devastated, thinking she is lost, drowning, or swept down to the Saco River. Then the most beautiful sound in the world. I heard Molly Malone’s dog collar rattling up the side of the hill. I just ran up to the top of the dam area. She ran over to me so happy and licked my face. I literally lost my emotions and cried my eyes out. It was tears of joy that we both survived this unbelievable event. We were never in the water; it was just a complete freak accident that put us in together. I still had to get home with the most painful dislocated shoulder. My dog returned the favor and helped walk Me home to Davis Hill Road. My friend Dwayne called the fire department and ambulance. I walked almost a mile home where I was surrounded by angels. The Conway Fire and Rescue saved my shoulder by getting me to the emergency room. They couldn’t believe I had made it through my ordeal with my dog. I had three months of rehab thanks to mountain valley rehab center for getting my shoulder back to normal. I was able to go back to teaching physical education. I think being in great shape and refusing to quit helped save my life. I love my dog to death and couldn’t bear to watch her suffer. She is my best friend. The fire department called me the Hurricane Irene miracle. I wake up everyday and I cant believe I’m still alive. My dog, two months later, was diagnosed with cancer and she survived her surgery. The hardships I went though were unreal. I know one thing: We made it as a team because we are fighters. This story still blows my mind, but we are survivors. I thought I’d share my story because tomorrow is a milestone for us. I know that even when things seem impossible they aren’t. Celebrating life.
The following Tele-Talk responses were posted on The Conway Daily Sun’s Facebook page:
The extreme high water of the Saco. I live by it.
Seeing a camp floating down the Rocky Branch.
Dot Seybold closed Settlers’ Green.
I remember watching the weather maps and realizing that wind was not going to be an issue. The issue was going to be all the water from Massachusetts bay getting trucked in and dropped on top of us. I sat back, made sure that I had the site that shows the Saco River flood gauges bookmarked on my computer, and enjoyed the show.
Not being able to get to work because both 16 and 302 were washed out. (I was in Milan.)
My husband coming home from Ossipee by way of Jackson because of flooding.
Getting kicked out of Baxter Park after hitting six peaks in two days!
Playing Hurricane Soccer in the yard with our dog. The wind wasn’t bad, but the rain was drenching. It was a blast.
The intensity of the flow of the water at Jackson Falls was astonishing! The other memory that comes to mind was the thunderous roar of boulders being thrust down the channel of East Branch River in Intervale. Everything just happened so fast, and the rivers most certainly ruled the valley on that wild day!