"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Briefing

On Thursday, as preparation for the Governor's briefing on disaster recovery, I ventured into the tornado zone, a few miles to the south and east of the Lodge. Until that time, I had purposely avoided those areas, due to reports of the difficulties caused by hordes of rubberneckers clogging thoroughares and slowing traffic.

I'd seen the television and newspaper photos, which were disturbing enough. Driving through the devastation was just heartbreaking. I stayed only on the major roads, where traffic is permitted, didn't attempt to go on any side roads--though with my official licence plates I probably could've got onto some of them if I'd asked permission. These secondary and unclassified roadsways are still closed except to local traffic, and some have manned highway patrol units posted to keep the gawkers out. I didn't bother anybody about expanding my inspection tour. I was able to see plenty from the open roads. I can't adequately describe it.

I did not take my camera.

Yesterday's briefing was excellent. The legislators from the 11 affected towns received the most up-to-date information. Not only from the Governor, but several high-level personnel from various state agencies. We received very useful info about resources--federal, state, nonprofit--available to our constituents.

Here's a little bit of what I learned:

The tornado was on the ground for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Of the more than 100 homes that are damanged: 19 were destroyed, 41 had major damage, 50 had minor damage, and 16 were otherwise affected. Over 13,000 households lost power. Local and state roads had to be closed until trees were cleared. The affected area is rural and the impact to the terrain has been severe, with damage on 8,000 forested acres.

The local first responders did a wonderful job, supported by state agencies and nonprofts. Red Cross and Salvation Army are offering assistance, as is Volunteer New Hampshire.

Damage assessments are ongoing. FEMA was on the scene from the start, collecting data, and we should know by the end of next week whether individuals and towns will receive federal financial assistance.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with our state senator working on some local constituent issues.

The Chap and I are still trying to figure out what to do today, and where to do it. At some point one or both of us will be Big Lake-bound.

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