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CONCORD MONITOR – With Students On Winter Break, Plymouth State Begins to Dry Out

Robert Stewart, owner of All Brite Cleaning & Restoration of Gilford and Concord, vacuums some of the waterlogged carpet inside the facilities center of Plymouth State University on Wednesday after the flood receded and they were able to start cleaning the offices. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff.

The cold water of the Pemigewasset River has risen here before.

Usually, it’s ice jams from up north that clog the river and drown this little area at the town line of Plymouth and Holderness. This time it was rain, then some more rain followed by more rain. While Plymouth State University is on higher ground, the little section of Holderness Road off Exit 25 off Interstate 93 is home to the school’s facilities office and ice arena.

The arena was mostly spared. The facilities office got swamped. So did a pair of gas stations and other smaller campus structures. “We can’t really say what the total damages are to campus. Our teams are still doing the assessment and trying to figure things out at this point,” said Joanne Landers, vice president of enrollment management and communications.

One small blessing was that students had left for the semester.

“I think it would have been far more chaotic,” said Kelli Kemery, the facilities manager for Plymouth State. “There would have been a different impact with the students here because there would have been an academic program that was operating. The fact that the academic program had ended and students were able to leave the campus, it was safer for them and it’s easier to clean up for us.” The storm dropped between 4 and 5 inches of rain across the Northeast, according to the National Weather Service. In New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, the rain melted mountain snow, which swelled the rivers even more. Seventeen people were rescued from floodwaters in Conway, New Hampshire, four of them by helicopter, according to the Associated Press. Holderness Road, which leads to the campus from the highway, was closed as the water rose and flooded the area. Once the water receded, the cleanup began. One of the offices at the flooded facility’s office was Kemery’s.

“You never know with Mother Nature,” said Kemery. “The last time we had this amount of water was probably Irene in 2011. We’ve had micro floods since then, but not to the same level.” The Big Apple gas station marks the high water mark for each flood. The highest mark on the wall – above head height – was from April 1, 1987. “Our thoughts are with individuals and businesses in the region who have been devastated by this unprecedented event,” Landers said.

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