CONCORD, NH – Governor Chris Sununu on Friday requested that President Donald Trump issue a major disaster declaration and provide federal emergency assistance for the blizzard and severe winter storm that occurred between March 14 and March 15, 2017.
His five-page letter to Trump can be read in full below.
“As a result of this winter storm, the State of New Hampshire sustained widespread damage including property damage in eight of ten counties,” Governor Sununu wrote. “This storm considerably strained state and local resources; it consumed staff time and exhausted available resources due to statewide blizzard conditions, strong winds, reduced visibility, and significant debris that restricted travel and storm operations.”
In advance of the storm, Governor Sununu executed the State Emergency Operations Plan with an activation of the State Emergency Operations Center on March 14 through March 15, 2017. Snowfall accumulation totaled between 12 to 20 inches across the state with snowfall rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour, and winds exceeding 80 miles per hour during the storm.
The storm left 143,988 individuals without power and damaged more than 200 electrical power poles and associated equipment, resulted in hundreds of traffic accidents, forced more than 500 school closures, and delayed flights in and out of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. The storm also caused thousands of customers across 24 communities in Belknap, Carroll, Grafton, and Merrimack counties to lose telephone, internet and cable service for several days due to damages to fiber optic circuits cut by falling trees.
“These severe conditions created damages that overwhelmed the capabilities of state and local jurisdictions and required an immediate, urgent response,” Governor Sununu wrote. “The overwhelming damages and conditions were most severe in Belknap and Carroll counties, both located in central New Hampshire, resulting in requests for state assistance.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, working with state and local emergency management officials, recently completed a Preliminary Damage Assessment, finding that the statewide costs for this event’s response efforts exceeded $2,169,538, including $1,887,909 in Carroll County and $281,629 in Belknap County. If the request is granted, government organizations and certain private nonprofits that provide a critical service may be eligible to apply for Public Assistance. Other entities are not eligible to apply.
In addition, six other counties experienced significant damage but did not meet the federally required thresholds, including Rockingham County with nearly $146,000 in damages.
“Prior to the March 14, 2017 Winter Storm Event, the SEOC was also activated a dozen times over the course of the winter due to severe storms that had been forecasted to bring significant precipitation and have high potential for downed trees and wires,” Governor Sununu wrote. “These storms resulted in a busy winter season for the treatment and maintenance of roadways, numerous motor vehicle accidents, and hundreds of school closures. The number of storms over a short period of time strained response resources at both the state and local levels.”