Biden approves NH disaster from Dec. 22-25 storm, flooding

Mar. 15—CONCORD — President Joe Biden approved Gov. Chris Sununu's request to declare a major disaster stemming from a Dec. 22-25 storm when heavy rains and snowmelt caused widespread power outages and damage in the state's four northernmost counties.

The approval permits communities in Belknap, Carroll, Coos and Grafton counties to seek federal assistance to help pay for cleanup.

The state identified $3.1 million in costs to state and local government property from the storm that hit hardest in the towns of Gilford, Hanover, Plymouth, Freedom and Alton.

At its height on Dec. 23, almost 133,883 customers across the state were without power, and several towns opened warming centers and overnight shelters as temperatures dropped.

The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative sustained $2.1 million in damage from the storm across six counties.

Gusty wind, heavy rain and alternating freezing and thawing delayed the utility's response to multiple Lake Winnipesaukee islands, which went without power for several weeks.

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Robert Buxton said his office will be setting up briefings to assist communities in applying for federal aid, which can cover up to 75% of approved costs.

Agencies that are eligible for assistance include local, county and state agencies, as well as nonprofits that provide critical services.

While Seacoast communities did not qualify for their own assistance, extremely high tides from this storm washed out roads, broke down the seawall and flooded the state office in the Division of Ports and Harbors.

The state also can apply for hazard mitigation grants that would assist in limiting damages from future storms.