Friday, July 25, 2008
A tragic & touching story regarding an altruistic & loving grandmother!
"Friend: Woman killed in N.H. storm grabbed baby and ran for cover"
July 25, 2008, 2:12 PM, By Michael Levenson, (Boston) Globe Staff, and Ryan Kost, (Boston) Globe Correspondent
DEERFIELD, N.H. -- As a tornado barreled down on her log cabin in Deerfield, N.H., on Thursday, 57-year-old Brenda J. Stevens grabbed her 3-month-old grandson and ran for cover, a friend said today.
As the storm ripped open the cabin, it grabbed Stevens’s husband, Harley, and “threw Harley out of the house,” said the friend, Christine McGovern, who spoke to the Stevens’s relatives and neighbors after the storm.
“And with that, he yelled to one neighbor, ‘Call 911!’ because he knew Brenda was still in there with the baby,” McGovern said.
Brenda Stevens never made it out, the lone fatality of the destructive storm. “She was dead, but the baby was still alive,” McGovern said. “I think she was the angel.”
McGovern said Stevens never had time to escape. "The house had just collapsed,” she said in a telephone interview. “In the three minutes that thing went by, she grabbed the baby, and that was that for her.”
Firefighters responded, struggling past downed power lines and felled trees on Sleepy Hollow Lane. They found the house in ruins and Stevens’s body lying in the rubble, Chief Stewart Yeaton of the Fire Department in neighboring Epsom, N.H, said at a press conference today.
“They were crawling through the debris, and they were able to see her in the rubble,” Yeaton said. “They could tell she was dead.”
Firefighters also knew an infant was alive in the rubble.
“As they were doing the rescue," Yeaton said, "they could hear the baby crying in the background.”
Firefighters used poles and inflatable airbags to lift the rubble and prevent it from collapsing further, he said. They found the infant a few feet from Brenda Stevens. The boy was unscathed, his body inches from heavy debris.
Firefighters carried the child out, said Robert Blodgett, chairman of the Epsom select board.
“It was responding,” Blodgett said today, "and it was in pretty fair condition."
Yeaton was stunned.
“An act of God, I guess, I guess,” the chief said.
McGovern recalled Brenda Stevens, a mother of two daughters, as a woman who was cheerful and quick to joke.
“She loved her family, and her husband loved her,” McGovern said “They were just a happy-go-lucky couple.”
The baby was the son of one of Harley Stevens’s two sons from a previous marriage, she said. He was released from the hospital today.
“Lucky it didn’t kill him,” Yeaton said.
"Tornado touched down in N.H. storm; 200 houses damaged"
July 25, 2008, 2:41 PM
By (Boston) Globe Staff
A tornado was to blame for some of the damage inflicted yesterday when powerful storms struck New Hampshire, state and federal officials said today, confirming reports from residents who saw a funnel cloud descend from the sky.
The tornado struck two of the hardest-hit towns, Epsom and Deerfield, killing 57-year-old Brenda J. Stevens when it destroyed her log cabin, said James C. Van Dongen, spokesman for the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.
Van Dongen said the storm damaged a total of 200 houses, and completely destroyed six. Damage on the 200 ranged from roofs that had ripped off to shingles that went missing. Nine towns suffered heavy damage, such as downed power lines and blocked roads, and six suffered minor damage, such as broken windows, he said.
Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency scoured the region, examining the damage to see if residents might be eligible for federal disaster aid. Van Dongen said the state plans to apply for aid to homeowners and assistance for debris removal. He said officials had not yet estimated a dollar figure for the damage.
He cautioned that, "Most wind damage is typically covered by homeowners insurance, so we're encouraging people to immediately contact their insurance agents, take pictures, keep receipts."
The storm rampaged over a 21-mile stretch, the Globe reports this morning. Residents told stories of seeing an eerie green sky before the storm hit.
It was the second tornado in two days to hit New England. National Weather Service experts have confirmed that a tornado first sighted on Narragansett Bay hit parts of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts on Wednesday.
Bob Bennett becomes overwhelmed with emotion after telling his 11-year old daughter over the phone that they no longer had a home and that their neighbor had perished when a storm hit their Epsom neighborhood.
"One dead in violent N.H. storm"
July 24, 2008, 5:51 PM
By Stephanie Ebbert and Martin Finucane, Globe Staff, and Christopher Baxter, Globe Correspondent
A powerful storm tore through at least a half dozen towns in southeastern New Hampshire today, toppling trees, knocking out power, and damaging buildings, a state emergency management agency spokesman said today. At least one person was killed.
Jim Van Dongen, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, confirmed that one person was killed when a house collapsed in the town of Epsom. He was not able to release the identity of the victim or the house's location.
He said other people had been injured, but he did not know how many.
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch said the storm destroyed at least a half dozen homes and damaged at least 100. "The safety of families and individuals is our highest priority," he said, speaking to reporters after viewing the damaged area from a State Police helicopter.
Reports of damage from high winds came in just before noon from the Deerfield and Epsom area, said Van Dongen.
He said it wasn't clear if the storm that hit the southern part of Strafford County was a tornado. He said about seven communities had been affected as the storm "cut a swath of damage" from the Deerfield-Epsom area to the area near Wolfeboro and Alton. Lynch said the swath of damage stretched to New Durham.
The governor declared a state of emergency in Strafford County, as well as Belknap, Carroll, Merrimack, and Rockingham counties.
About a dozen National Guardsmen were en route to Epsom to assist local officials, said Lynch's press secretary, Colin Manning.
Karen Dail of Epsom said she was in a barn with a farrier shoeing her horse when the storm came. The farrier said, "My husband is from Texas and always says, 'If the sky turns green, there's a tornado coming,'" Dail recounted.
"When we looked out, it was getting green and you could see a funnel," Dail said. "You could see the clouds twisting on the road. ... Kayaks were hanging like kites in the woods."
On nearby Sleepy Hollow Lane, what one resident described as a large, nice house on Northwood Lake had completely collapsed. Houses on either side had survived with little damage. It wasn't clear if the house had been the scene of the fatality.
The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning at 11:46 a.m. for parts of Strafford, Belknap, Carroll, and Merrimack counties, saying that Doppler radar had located a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado 13 miles southwest of Farmington.
Epsom Selectwoman Joanne Randall said she didn't have many details on damage. But she said rescue efforts were being hampered by fallen trees and roads that were shut down for construction. She said selectmen had approved the opening of a bridge that was closed for construction so rescue vehicles could reach one area of town.
Robert Barry, a Concord police officer acting as a spokesman for the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit, which was assisting in the rescue efforts, said at a briefing in Epsom that two people from the Deerfield-Epsom area had been taken to Concord Hospital with injuries.
He said the worst-affected area in Deerfield and Epsom was a half-mile long and a few hundred yards wide. Firefighters and police officers from 20 area towns were conducting door-to-door searches to make sure residents were all right, he said.
A fire department dispatcher in Barnstead said a "tornado" went through town and several houses had collapsed. Barnstead was miraculously reporting no injuries by midafternoon but roads were cluttered with felled trees and power lines and the power companies were working with emergency crews to ground electric lines.
"We're cutting hand paths so we can go down on the highways," said Shawn Mulcahy, deputy fire chief in Barnstead. "Route 126 is completely blocked. Route 28 is completely blocked, and many of our smaller roads are blocked with huge trees, power lines, broken poles, and debris taller than a person. We have a lot of destruction."
Barnstead emergency officials were still trying to reach more than a dozen homes with people uninjured but trapped inside -- often, with downed electric lines outside.
"They are what we consider sheltered in place -- unable to get out of their residences but uninjured. We're holding them in their residences to make sure we can get them out safely. They're not going to have any power for days, any water."
"We have not transported a single patient," Mulcahy said.
Kirk Apffel, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Maine, said the service would send experts to survey the damage Friday to determine whether the storm had been a tornado. He noted that the damage reports were coming in from the area that the service had pinpointed in its tornado warning.
He said the experts would also be looking at the Freedom-Ossippee area slightly farther north, where another tornado warning was issued. Damage was also reported there, he said, but it was not as extensive.
"House collapse kills Deerfield woman"
By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI AND TRENT SPINER, NH Union Leader News, July 25, 2008
EPSOM – A possible tornado touched down near Northwood Lake yesterday and cut a deadly northeasterly path to the southern tip of Lake Winnipesaukee, killing at least one person, ripping up trees and power lines and damaging more than 100 homes.
At least two people were injured in the Epsom, Deerfield and Northwood area hardest hit by the storm, officials said. An injured child was admitted to Concord Hospital and an adult was being evaluated in the emergency room last night, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The storm roared through Sleepy Hollow Lane, a wooded, lakeside community of 50 to 100 summer camps that straddles Epsom and Deerfield, collapsing a two-story house and killing a woman, neighbors and authorities said. Neighbors identified the woman as Brenda Stevens, 57, a year-round resident who lived with her husband, her husband's father, her step-son and his infant daughter.
"They were in the house when it collapsed," said neighbor Sam Gage of 39 North Road.
Gage said a frantic Jeremy Stevens arrived at their door early in the afternoon asking for a ride to his Sleepy Hollow Lane home. He said his newborn child was injured and his step-mother killed, she said.
"He was like hysterical," Gage said.
Stevens, who neighbors said was a retiree, lived at the end of a dirt road on a small peninsula jutting out into the lake.
"It's amazing how much damage her house had and how little we had," said a neighbor, Tom Barker, as he ventured over downed power lines and tree branches to get a look at the destroyed home.
Besides a barn-style roof that had almost slipped into the lake, nothing was left of the house besides a pile of debris. The family's pontoon boat was also washed ashore and two cars in the driveway were smashed.
"I had just talked to her for 45 minutes the other day at a garage sale," said Brian Boucher, another neighbor. "She was an awesome lady."
Eleven firefighters from Manchester Fire Department's Building Collapse Unit helped rescuers pull away piles of debris and remove Stevens' body from the rubble.
Boucher watched along with a handful of other neighbors as her body was taken to an ambulance.
"It was an emotional moment," he said.
Several witnesses described seeing a tornado touch down on Route 107 in Epsom about 11:30 a.m., skip into an open pasture where it snapped a line of towering pines in half before it ravaged the community of summer camps and headed across the lake into Northwood.
"The sky turned green and the tornado hit right here. The wind was unbelievable," said Karen Dail, 40, describing how the funnel-shaped cloud cut across her family's 160-acre farm which straddles Route 107. The storm uprooted massive pines and left kayaks "hanging in trees like kites."
"This is New Hampshire. Things like this aren't supposed to happen," said Kevin Gage, 49, who lives at 39 North Road. "The damage is just incredible. I'm seeing big, bull pines snapped off. Telephone poles snapped just like twigs."
Surveying the scene from a New Hampshire State Police helicopter, Gov. John Lynch said he saw at least 100 homes damaged -- some completely collapsed -- from Epsom to New Durham, including the southern Lake Winnipesaukee towns of Alton and Barnstead.
"It certainly appears like a tornado-type event," the governor said. "It seems like a fairly narrow swath of damage."
Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., plans to view storm damage in Epsom and Alton today and meet with local officials to discuss the response effort.
The New Hampshire Army National Guard arrived mid-afternoon to help the estimated 200 to 250 fire, police and rescue workers who came from a score of communities as far off as Maine to launch a massive search-and-rescue effort.
Soon, the whine of chain saws and ATVs filled the air as work crews removed toppled trees and twisted power lines that blocked roads and access to houses.
"We're cutting our way to get to these homes," Epsom Fire Chief Stewart Yeaton said.
"I'm not sure if it was a microburst or a tornado. It doesn't make a difference to me ... We're still not out of danger by any means," Yeaton said.
Threats of continued severe weather had rescue workers keeping a wary eye on the skies and, at one point, prompted a call to seek shelter as a late afternoon storm came through.
Rescue workers were going door to door to check on residents.
While Deerfield and Northwood sustained heavy damage, the hardest hit area was a relatively small section of Epsom bordered by Northwood Lake, Routes 4 and 107, and Deerfield, said Concord Police Chief Robert Barry, who acted as spokesman for the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit.
For all its ferocity, the storm was limited to an area about a half-mile long and a few hundred yards wide and damaged about 150 seasonal and year-round homes, Barry said. Houses sustained structural to cosmetic damage, he said.
"It's unbelievable. I was here with the floods in 2006 and 2007. I've never seen anything so devastating," said Epsom Selectman Robert H. Blodgett, a 30-year resident.
Route 4 opened last night after being closed for most of the day. Portions of Route 107 remained closed, and Lakeshore Drive was open to residents only.
Shelters were set up at Epsom Elementary School and Northwood Town Hall.
Power outages remain widespread. At 5 a.m., PSNH reported slow progress in restoring electricity to about 1,000 customers in the Alton, Barnstead and Strafford area without power, 200 in the Ossipee, Effingham and Freedom region and another 100 in Epsom, Northwood and Pittsfield.
Brenda Stevens, 57, was killed when this two-story home on Northwood Lake in Deerfield was destroyed in yesterday's violent storms. (TRENT SPINER)
Good logic, Mike in Londonderry...."I saw it on the TV! It must be true!". Your not doing a lot for defense of The Cause.
- Mike, Concord
I dont believe it is a case of global warming. If you watch any weather channels, we have a jet stream issue that wont quit this year. Cold to the north, warm to the south and us in the middle. The Al Gore minions, who follow this great green guy who has a massive energy consuming mansion in his home state, will stoop ever lower. I was also disappointed with WMUR and the Fire mashall. I thought they both released the victims name too soon and WMUR continually scrolling it at the bottom of the screen for an hour was pathetic.
- brian, weare
This was a tragedy, that is certain. But to condemn the idea of global warming a "religion" (VERY ignorant statement, by the way) is blind. The best thing would not be to call it Global Warming, but climate change, which is what it is. When it's being broadcast on The Discovery Channel and The History Channel and The Science Channel as fact, can you really ignore it and call us insane? It's not a religion, and it's not magic. It's science. Do a little research and you'll see what all us nutty people are blabbering on about.
- Mike, Londonderry
Global warming is happening, but what most people do not take into account is that we have been tracking weather for the last MAYBE hundred years. This planet is MILLIONS of years old. Shifts in climate do happen, but to say that man is making it happen with all our unnessisary "toys" is arrogant. Things change.
Prayers going out to the family's who have to deal with this difficult time
- Diana, Londonderry
Not really understanding any part of your comment. Ricky of Lee made an observation that many others have made and have been making for some time.
Regardless, your kind of scary rant --about Ricky's respectful opinion on the possible causes of the weather that has been covered in the news in the last few years -- makes me a bit worried about you.
Ricky, I don't think an opinion is anything to be *shameful* about. But Amy's creepy rant is.
- KB, Hollis
I wonder if these people had any warning from the media that this was coming. They're always testing the Emergency Alert System....but it never gets any better... The audio quality is usually so poor, you can't make out what they were saying, save for the alert tone itself...And even that isn't so good. They need to change this... Do some more research and fix it, as we are now having multiple tornadoes, and other severe weather in NH. The south end of Manchester was torn up last Saturday morning by a massive storm, and there was no warning of at all! Trees down, entire neighborhoods closed off...roofs and houses damaged...I don't even think channel 9 was aware of storm or the damage, because it was in the wee hours of last Saturday morning. But ask anyone on the south end, they'll tell you. The residents of New Hampshire need to know what to do, and when to do it, when a tornado, or microburst is coming, and have maximum time possible to prepare!
- Ken S., Manchester
Ben, and anyone else looking to help,
Contact the Red Cross. They have the best means of assessing what is needed in terms of clothes, furniture, food etc.
And they are always in need of cash donations because they put people up in hotels or run shelters until things get moving to rebuild their homes.
- Sarah, Keene
Can someone provide info as to how
we can help these people out? Is food/water/clothing or anything else needed and where could someone bring supplies to?
- Zizzy, Manchester
Ricky from Lee:
Global warming and climate changes have little or nothing to do with the level of preparedness of the responders in the immediate area. The towns were not "unequipped" to protect their communities. Most, if not all, of communities within NH are part of a mutual aid system or compact that is equipped to locate and dispatch additional resources. The State of NH EOC is staffed with representatives from all agencies to ensure additional resources are available.
The fact that additional towns and resources were called upon to supplement the resources in the communities does not speak to a level of readiness; it speaks to the design and benefit of mutual aid systems.
- Kristie, Keene
I don't see how Ricky in Lee's comment is disrespectful at all. He is absolutely correct. Do a little research, read up on climate change a little. The extreme weather is only going to get worse.
I also send my condolences to the Stevens family and everyone affected by this storm.
- Jen, Milton NH
Is there anything we can do to help these people? I know I saw last night on the news they were saying that people were delivering goods and services to help but instead of bickering about global warming, why don't we step up and help out? Remember all the people that came out for Extreme Makeover Home Edition? Lets get that support going again for our friends in Epsom and Deerfield and surrounding areas!
- Ben, Portsmouth NH
Pat in Harrisville, my husband vividly remembers that storm that ripped through Harrisville (we were actualy talking about it the other day, oddly enough). He was on the school bus behind all the damage and he said they could't go down Hancock Rd because of trees down. We walk through the woods by our house and the damage is still evident - trees down in every direction and uprooted trees. It's scary because things like this don't normally happen in NH. These poor people had no warning from what I've heard and read - it just happened so fast.
I am so sorry for all the families affected by this storm. My prayers are with your communities.
- Karen, Harrsville
Ricky in Lee...
This was a tragedy, and you're immediately in here trying to use it to promote your Global Warming religion.
SHAME ON YOU! SHAME! That's horrible! I am ashamed that someone as low as you is a fellow citizen of New Hampshire!
That's just so low! You should be ashamed of yourself! But you're probably not. Anything for The Cause, right?
- Amy Senet, Manchester
This is an unfortunate tragedy and our hearts go out to the Stevens family and everyone affected.
But concluding this is due to "global warming" is a little presumptuous. I guess there were never heavy storms, tornadoes, or glaciers melting prior to Al Gore enlightening us all.
- Susan Shepherd, Manchester, NH
Global warming!? Give me a break. Only a global warming gloom and doomer would use this to promote that hocus-pokus.
Yup, this is the first severe thunderstorms to ever hit the area! Wow, ignorance is bliss.
- John, Dover
Tornadoes and horrible thunderstorms might be rare in NH, but how come every time weather that is a little out of the ordinary occurs, everyone immediately blames Global Warming? I just think it is rather comical how ordinary people with zero knowledge of science can take every natural disaster and blame it on Global Warming thanks to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester, NH
My heart goes out to Ms. Stevens' family as well as the people who lost their homes.
- Beth, Candia
Devastating! We need to prepare ourselves for wild weather like this!
Hasn't anyone else noticed the change in NH's climate recently? Summer now has Hotter days, more rainfall & Winter has more snow, Colder days. Something is screwing with our weather. Could it be those useless items we're throwing up into the skies? Is the world spinning more? Let's spend money investigating this rather than spending it on useless things like the war!
My heart goes out to the Stevens Family. And all those others who suffered a tragic event yesterday.
- Mrs.Cartwright, Manchester NH
Ricky,I know it's hard for you "true believers",but could you try to keep your globaloney hysteria to yourself?At least until the storm damage is cleaned up.
My heart goes out to the Stevens family,and all effected by this storm.
- Mike P., Manchester
In 1988 I witnessed a similar "storm" touch down in Harrisville, Dublin, Hancock. Living on a high NH ridge, the following occurred:
1.) Calm dead air before the storm
2.) Dark funnel cloud on opposite ridge
3.) Pea soup green gray cloud with minimal visability engulfed us.
4.) High winds roaring like a freight train
5.) Heavy rains sheeting horizontally
6.) "Storm" passed in just minutes.
After the storm, you could see where it had touched down and jumped from ridge to ridge. Twisted and broken trees mangled beyond recognition.
National Weather Service was called out and determined I believe that a tornado or microburst had touched down.
Fortunately, no one was hurt or injured. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Stevens family. These storms are rare occurances in NH.
- Pat, Harrisville
I am not surprised at this weather, are you? No global warming and climate changes here in NH is there? I think this is just the begining of much worse weather to some and I dont think anyone is ready for it. just look how unequipped most towns are, what will we do when other towns are taking care of their town and we cant call 15 towns to support one. my heart goes out to this womans family and friends.
- Ricky, Lee NH
I was on the phone with my sister, the sun was shinning and the wind started to howl, the sky turned blacker than I'd ever seen it. "It's getting all Wizard of OZ here", I said. Little did I know that one town over it really was.
Sending prayers to the Stevens family and all who suffered other losses as well.
- Erica, Candia
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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