‘I’ve never seen so much water all at once’

  • Heavy rains washed out one side of Old Town Farm Road in Peterborough on Sunday morning.

  • Heavy rains washed out one side of Old Town Farm Road in Peterborough on Sunday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Heavy rains washed out one side of Old Town Farm Road in Peterborough on Sunday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Pavement was cracked by floodwaters along Old Town Farm Road in Peterborough on Sunday.

  • Heavy rains caused flooding in Peterborough and Jaffrey over the weekend. Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger Transcript

  • The Contoocook River roars over Noone Falls in Peterborough on Monday morning. Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/19/2021 5:19:21 PM

Several roads in Jaffrey and Peterborough remained partially closed into Monday as road crews attempted to deal with storm damage, flooding, and major washouts from torrential rains on Saturday night into Sunday.

Jaffrey Airfield Silver Ranch, which measures precipitation as part of weather monitoring for the National Weather Service, reported the storm started out strong on Saturday night. In the first two hours, the storm dumped nearly three inches on Jaffrey.

Overnight, another 3.95 inches fell, for a total of 6.9 inches, over 15 hours. On Sunday, there was another .73 inches of rain, for a total of 7.63 inches over the weekend.

Harvey Sawyer, owner of Silver Ranch Airpark, said the storm was “of epic proportions.”

“In my memory, I’ve never seen so much water all at once,” Sawyer said. “We have a lake where we usually have a pond.”

On Monday morning, the Jaffrey Highway Department was still responding to reports of flooding and damage, according to Jaffrey Town Manager Jon Frederick.

Culverts on Letourneau Drive were damaged, and the town was still working Monday to put in an emergency replacement. The road was open only to passenger vehicles and neighborhood traffic on Monday.

The town was able to open most damaged roads to at least one lane of traffic before nightfall on Sunday, and were continuing to work on damaged roads Monday.

“About 200 feet of Old Town Farm Road washed away completely,” said Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker said. “The main issue with that road is it is a dead-end road. There is no other way out.”

The rising waters came over the roadway in several parts of Peterborough, including on Old Street Road, Old Greenfield Road and Summer Street.

“It appeared the heaviest rain fell in the southern part of town,” Walker said.

John Kaufhold, owner of Peterborough Marble and Granite Works on Concord Street, which abuts the Contoocook River, said the river swelled past its banks, and flooded the back yard of the Granite Works, as it often does during heavy rains.

“The backyard filled in, as we like to say,” Kaufhold said. “There wasn’t too much damage. Luckily, all our merchandise is rocks and are too heavy to wash away, but the river dragged in silt and branches, so there was a little cleanup we had to do.”

While Kaufhold said the river flooding isn’t all that unusual, it is during this time of year. Usually, waters only get this high after a spring snowmelt, or during the fall, when New Hampshire can see large storms and remnants of hurricanes.

“For July, it’s very rare,” Kaufhold said. “I don’t think I’ve seen it in my 60 years here. Not so much all at once.”

In Antrim, Tenney Farm reported flooding to its lower fields.

Eric Tenney, who owns the land, and whose daughter Crista Salamy now runs the farm, said the fields behind the stand, which grows tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash and corn are under water.

“I couldn’t believe how fast it came,” Tenney said. “In two or three hours, the field was totally flooded.”

“We’ve got to wait and see, and keep our fingers crossed,” Salamy said. “Because we can’t even get out there right now. It’s a waiting game, and not a good waiting game.”

Salamy said the water and current could have damaged crops, and also bring in pests which can hurt the plants even after the water ebbs. She said if a large portion are damaged, it would be “devastating” to the farm, as it is only weeks before many of the plants would be harvested, and some were already being picked.

Tenney said the fields are still under water, in some places as two or three feet, and in some of their fallow fields, as high as five feet.

“It’s already dropped about a foot,” Tenney said.

Tenney said even the crops under water may yet pull through.

“I’ve been here for 50 years, and I’ve been through a lot of floods. I’ve seen it happen with corn where the water comes up, the water goes down, and the corn is fine. I’ve never been through it with tomatoes,” Tenney said. “We probably won’t know for two or three days.”

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