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Storm Aftermath: Evacuees at Campton Elementary School Tell Their Stories

Sean Hurley
17-year-old Ethan Purcell on his cot at the Campton Elementary School.

The Campton Elementary School provided shelter last night for 35 plus residents evacuated from the Six Flags Mobile Home Park and the Beebe River area.  NHPR’s Sean Hurley went to the school this morning to talk to the evacuees about their experience.

Tammy Wells sits in the school cafeteria with her 16-year-old son Cameron and 17-year-old daughter Marissa. “We got evacuated about 5:00, 5:30 yesterday morning,” Wells says. “The Campton ambulance came through, sirens and voice system saying that we needed to mandatory evacuate. I didn't even have time to look in my backyard. I just grabbed my kids, grabbed what we could, and grabbed our animals and left. We still don't know what damage has been done to our home.”

Credit Sean Hurley
Tammy Wells, John Crombie and Cameron Wells (l to r) in the school cafeteria.

Wells' husband has just left the school to check on their house on the Beebe River  - and their daughter Marissa keeps checking her phone to see if he’s texted yet. “It's definitely kind of sad to know that your house could be destroyed,” Marissa Wells says, “but in the future you could be like, oh I've been evacuated - I know the experience. It's kind of cool to think about but then again if you think about - that's my home. That's where I've been for how many years you've been there. It's kind of like depressing.”

Marissa Wells, on her cot, waiting to hear from her Dad about their home on the Beebe River.

John Crombie, 17, crosses the cafeteria and takes a seat beside the Wells Family.  “I came just this morning to take a shower because I live down at Six Flags and it's no power, no water,” Crombie says. “The trailer's cold. So I needed some heat to warm up.”

After the shower, Crombie went to the school gym with Wells' son Cameron. “We've been mostly just like exercising,” Cameron Wells says, “playing sports, dodgeball and things like that in the gym.”

“American Red Cross came in and brought cots to put up in the gym,” Tammy Wells says. “The community in the town have come together to provide food. The principal, Mr. George, has been going out and shopping every day to get extra supplies. It's been amazing everybody has really come together as a community to help us out.”

Credit Sean Hurley

I find 17-year-old Ethan Purcell laying on his cot in the gym. He describes yesterday’s long moment of early morning panic – as he stood in his bedroom, struggling to understand what was happening. “It was dark. I thought someone's house was on fire and you know people were out in the street and next thing you know we're told to go to the Campton School because the dams gonna break or whatever,” Purcell says. “It was just definitely weird, you know? It's like at school when they tell you, ‘If there was a fire what is the first thing you would grab?’ That was me like I definitely didn't know what to grab but myself and just tried to get out. “

The dam held and Ethan Purcell did manage to grab a few things. “Me, my sweatshirt and my phone, that's about it and just walked out,” he says. “I had no socks on.”

Purcell and the rest of the locals sheltering at the school have been told it may be three more days before they can return home.

Sean Hurley lives in Thornton with his wife Lois and his son Sam. An award-winning playwright and radio journalist, his fictional “Atoms, Motion & the Void” podcast has aired nationally on NPR and Sirius & XM Satellite radio. When he isn't writing stories or performing on stage, he likes to run in the White Mountains. He can be reached at shurley@nhpr.org.

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