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Flood watch NH: Heavy rains leave flooding, washouts following heavy rainfall

This photo captured by Claire Sanders shows a severely damaged portion of Dunn Hill Road in Swanzey Sunday.
Claire Sanders via The Keene Sentinel
Granite State News Collaborative
This photo captured by Claire Sanders shows a severely damaged portion of Dunn Hill Road in Swanzey Sunday.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for much of New Hampshire on July 10, 2023. Persistent heavy rain could cause flash flooding across NH.

This story was originally produced by The Keene Sentinel. NHPR is republishing it in partnership with the Granite State News Collaborative.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Cheshire and Hillsborough counties until 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to John Palmer, a meteorologist with the agency's bureau in Gray, Maine.

Numerous towns throughout the Monadnock Region reported heavy flooding, road closures and washouts after significant rainfall Sunday.

"Rainfall totals Sunday night were highly variable depending on where you were in the county," Palmer said. "There were reports of under an inch in some portions and then in other locations there were 3-4 inches of rain."

A trained spotter in Swanzey reported the most rainfall in the Monadnock Region at 4.45 inches Sunday evening, then another spotter nearby reported 3.38 inches, Palmer said.

Nelson, Richmond, Stoddard, Swanzey and Winchester were the municipalities that saw substantial road washouts, with Swanzey and Winchester bearing the brunt of the damage, according to Southwestern N.H. District Fire Mutual Aid.

Related coverage: Relentless rain floods roads in Northeast, leads to evacuations, rescues

In Winchester, the following roadways remain closed as of 9:25 p.m. Sunday: Route 10, Forrest Lake Road, Old Westport Road, Howard Street, Old Spofford Road and Rabbit Hollow Road.

In Stoddard, the following roadways remain closed as of 11 p.m. Sunday: Kings Highway, Shedd Hill (by Eva Lane) and North Shore Road/Aten Road at Granite Lake.

In Swanzey, the following roadways remain closed as of 11 p.m. Sunday: Route 32 (around 717 Old Homestead Highway,) Swanzey Lake Road, East Shore Road, West Shore Road, Holbrook Avenue (near Westport Village) and Eaton Road stretching from the police station to West Swanzey.

Around 10:15 p.m. Sunday, Swanzey Fire Department went to Pilgrim Pines Camp and Retreat Center on Swanzey Lake to help evacuate around 150 guests of the camp ground, Chief Bill Gould said Sunday night.

"It was really an orderly kind of evacuation," he said. "It was necessary but it was an orderly one. With more rain coming in tomorrow, we took the opportunity to get people out."

With East Shore Road impassable, Swanzey fire, with assistance from Keene Fire Department, helped evacuate people through West Shore Road. Gould said there were no injuries.

Keene Fire Chief Donald Farquhar said Sunday night that people staying at Pilgrim Pines Camp were able to drive their personal vehicles out of the camp site from West Shore Road to Swanzey Lake Road.

"[Camp guests] were cut off by flooding and had no safe egress from the camp," he said in a text message. "The water subsided enough that we could assess the road damage."

For those seeking shelter or needing assistance, the following locations have been made open and available: Stoddard Fire Station, 936 Route 123 North; Whitcomb Hall, located at 17 Main St. in Swanzey; the ELM Memorial Community Center, located at 21 Durkee St. in Winchester, have been opened.

Flooding in the region today is forecast to be less significant than over the weekend, with most of the thunderstorms building in western Merrimack County and areas around the I-89 corridor. Palmer said the Ashuelot River in West Swanzey is at "minor flood stage." One to 2 inches of rainfall is expected today for much of Cheshire County.

The Vermont side of the Connecticut River will see greater risk of flooding, with Brattleboro under a high risk of excessive rainfall as well as areas of the Green Mountains in Southern Vermont.

"Never ever, ever drive in flooded waters," Palmer said. "The best thing you can do is turn around. You don't want to drive on flooded roads and then have to get rescued."

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