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Sununu asks federal government to declare April nor’easter a major disaster

Snowplows, like this one in Concord, were a common sight on New Hampshire roads during the spring snowstorm Thursday, April 4, 2024.
Zoey Knox
Snowplows, like this one in Concord, were a common sight on New Hampshire roads during the spring snowstorm Thursday, April 4, 2024.

Gov. Chris Sununu has asked President Biden to declare the winter storm and flooding New Hampshire experienced in early April a major disaster. That would open up federal funding for recovery and mitigation efforts.

In his request, Sununu says the state sustained more than $6.7 million dollars of damage during the snowstorm, which also brought high winds and coastal flooding. He says the total costs likely exceed that number.

One person’s death was linked to the storm, Sununu wrote. The request does not say where or under what circumstances that person died.

The request notes that many residents were cut off from critical services during the storm. In multiple places, trees fell onto homes and injured people inside. In at least one case, a tree fell onto a fire station.

The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative reported that the April storm caused more damage than an infamous 1998 ice storm, which shut down power for millions of people, in some cases for weeks.

During this April’s storm, thousands of people called 911 over the course of three days – about 30% more than baseline for that time of year. In Effingham, officials created a temporary shelter for about six people, which stayed open for three days.

The federal government has granted three disaster declarations for New Hampshire since the start of 2023, but it has denied the state’s disaster requests for two other storms. In his request, Sununu said the state received up to 200% more precipitation than normal throughout 2023.

“The results of such a large amount of precipitation have caused an incredible strain on resources across the state,” he wrote.

As humans continue to burn fossil fuels and warm the atmosphere, New England is seeing a significant increase in extreme precipitation.

Federal agencies are continuing to work with municipalities and the state on recovery from 11 active disasters, almost all related to storms and flooding. Some disasters with ongoing recovery efforts are as old as 2017.

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Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.
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