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Campers Stranded in New Hampshire Forest

June 1, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

A storm that dumped a hard, pounding rain late Sunday (May 30) stranded dozens of campers in Nash Stream State Forest near Stark, N.H., when all the water washed out the only roads in the remote back country.

“We’ve had a camp up here since 1969 and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Doris Tetreault, 81, of Groveton, after she walked about three miles from the camp near Trio Pond with her family, the Union Leader reported.

The storm struck around 10 p.m., said her daughter, Valerie Gearty, of Lebanon, Maine.

“It was like someone turned on the faucet,” she said.

Throughout the night, waves of water cascaded down the hillsides, from overflowing tributaries of the Nash Stream, blowing out culverts and tearing up the dirt road, which goes more than a dozen miles before ending at Stratford Bog.

Because of the remoteness, the first calls didn’t come in until about 10 a.m. Monday, said Stark Fire Chief Barry Wentworth.

He made it out to 14-and-a-Half Road, which leads to the Trio Ponds, at about noon.

“We couldn’t go any farther and it took us about two hours to get up there,” he said.

He called the Groveton fire department, which sent up its six-wheeled ATV and by about 4:30 p.m., a crew was able to get out to Stratford Bog, at the end of Nash Stream Road.

About eight people decided to hitch a ride out of their camps and the ATV ferried them along road. Another 11 people were taken down from camps in the Trio Pond area.

“We went out to make sure everyone was healthy,” he said, adding that there were no emergencies and most of the people chose to stay out at the camps until the road was repaired enough to get through.

That required numerous truckloads of sand and gravel, said Capt. John Accardi of the Division of Forests and Lands. By noon, people from the Stratford Bog end of Nash Stream began slowly driving out.

“We’ve had enough of the black flies,” said one man, driving by.

Forest Ranger Jason Huton said his last trip out to Nash Stream was in mid-May, when some mountain bikers reported there was still a foot of snow at the higher elevations.

“The ground is so wet and there was a lot of water in a short amount of time,” he said, pointing to an embankment where the water was streaming off. “This isn’t even a brook.”

The road crews worked Tuesday to make the roads passable enough for campers to get out. Huton called the work “temporary fixes,” and that further work will have to made.

On the other side of Stratford Bog, town road crews were dealing with the washout of several roads and at least two bridges.

The roads were passable Tuesday afternoon. Town officials were meeting Tuesday night to discuss the damage and the costs.

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