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Seven Rescued From Torrential N.H. Rains

August 11, 2003

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ Seven people were saved over the weekend in three separate rescues on rain-swollen New Hampshire rivers, as torrential downpours flooded some homes and businesses.

In the southwest part of the state, rain washed out a section of a major north-sound road for the second time in a week _ the latest instance of flooding after heavy rains soaked much of the East Coast.

A 14-year-old boy looking at storm damage in Westmoreland fell into a whirlpool of draining water, got sucked through a culvert, under a road and washed out on the other side, Fire Chief Harry Nelson said. The boy was found clinging to branches in Mill Brook and was taken to a hospital for observation.

The first river rescue Sunday came after three boys had their inner tubes swept away on the Pemigewasset River near North Woodstock. One clung to a branch in the middle of the river while the other two made it onto a small island, Fire Chief Bill Mellett said.

``The river was like Niagara Falls, all rapids. It’s the highest we’ve seen it in quite a while,″ he said.

Firefighters tied ropes around their waists and swam out to the boys, hanging onto a log part of the time, Mellett said.

Soon after, firefighters were called to rescue another boy who lost his tube in almost the same spot 60 miles north of Concord.

Three people who capsized in canoes on the Saco River, about 75 miles northeast of Concord, had to be rescued from a small island by helicopter because water was flowing too fast for a boat rescue, Fish and Game Lt. Robert Bryant said.

In Westmoreland, about 50 miles southwest of Concord, water flowed into businesses and homes and some people evacuated.

Rich Provencher, who was visiting his mother, said he saw 8-foot chunks of tar ripped from the edge of the flooded Route 12 and washed away. The street looked ``like the Amazon,″ he said.

Jeremy Benoit had to move most of his belongings from his home when the first floor went under water Sunday. The house sits at the bottom of a hill near a bend in Mill Brook.

``I pray to God it won’t float away,″ he said.

The heaviest rain Sunday came in Florida and in North Carolina, where a rain-swollen river swept away a 92-year-old covered bridge on Sunday, one of two left in the state. Some roads were flooded and dozens of people were voluntarily evacuated in the eastern part of the state.

In Florida, officials said heavy rain may have contributed to two drownings over the weekend, and a flood watch remained in effect Monday.

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