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Lawmakers consider sending aid to N.H.’s Seacoast to address storm damage

State lawmakers heard testimony on Senate Bill 590 today, with representatives from coastal towns noting that $700,000 in damage was inflicted during recent, severe winter storms

Damage caused by two storms in January 2024 in North Hampton, N.H.Senator Debra Altschiller

CONCORD, N.H. — The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood advisory that includes New Hampshire’s Seacoast on Tuesday, warning of one to two feet of storm surge on top of high astronomical tides likely to bring on minor coastal flooding.

The flood advisory comes as the Seacoast is still reeling from two massive storms in January that left serious damage to seaside infrastructure in their wake. Residents and town officials are figuring out how to repair and rebuild from those previous storms, as today’s weather sweeps in.

“It’s relentless,” said Senator Debra Altschiller about the weather patterns wreaking havoc on New Hampshire’s coast.

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Today, some of those towns sent representatives to Concord to testify on a bill that would offer some state relief money to help them rebuild. The towns reported over $700,000 in damage to public infrastructure.

That included $30,000 of damage to North Hampton, $30,762 to Rye, $60,000 to Seabrook, $48,662 to Portsmouth, $200,607 to New Castle, and $333,478 to Hampton.

Altschiller, a Stratham Democrat, said she introduced Senate Bill 590 on Jan. 18, the deadline to put in new legislation. It was right on the heels of two January storms and officials had not yet tallied the extent of the damage or how much repairs would cost, Altschiller said.

As drafted, SB 590 would only appropriate $1 toward storm damages, but Altschiller said the number is just a placeholder, and after the Senate Finance committee hears testimony, lawmakers can make an informed decision about how much they are willing to spend to help the region rebuild.

The bill sends money to the Department of Safety to address damaged infrastructure in Hampton, North Hampton, Rye, Newcastle, Portsmouth, and Seabrook.

Altschiller said the damage in the Seacoast is extensive, from roads to sidewalks and emergency vehicles. She said Hampton’s wastewater treatment plant was overwhelmed and also sustained some damages. In addition to paying for damage, towns need money to pay workers overtime.

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Altschiller said the storms have sparked conversations about coastal resiliency, so the region can avoid being trapped in a cycle of rebuilding infrastructure that gets destroyed in the next big storm. But that involves difficult conversations: like whether having a road right next to the beach is sustainable.

For now, the region is facing predictions of further flooding Tuesday.

“I’m holding my breath,” Altschiller said. “Everyone is.”


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Amanda Gokee can be reached at amanda.gokee@globe.com. Follow her @amanda_gokee.