From Scott Sanborn:
While NHDOT has been working furiously to open up Cardigan Mountain Road, Orange has been a bit of a holding pattern as we have been waiting for townwide access for Remacle Construction, and even more critically, to get confirmation that the event-wide damages meet the dollar threshold to qualify for federal disaster aid. While we obviously need to make extensive permanent repairs regardless, the manner in which we go about this is dependent upon whether aid will be available or we're stuck with the bill ourselves as a town.
A couple of weeks ago, we toured the town with FEMA and state emergency management personnel, and they seemed to think we were on target with our preliminary damage estimates of just over $900,000. They have since inspected other towns affected by the flooding and on Monday we got the confirmation that the total damages qualify, and the wheels are in motion at the state government level to get that process started for a federal disaster declaration which kicks in the ability to obtain federal funding to aid in rebuilding. While there is nothing signed and delivered yet, the primary hurdle has been passed, and we are now fairly confident that financial aid will be in the offing for us.
There are several immediate tasks we will be jumping on over the next couple of weeks regardless of the federal aid situation, now that we are very close to having townwide access again (without the half-hour detour!). First will be to improve the temporary repairs on New Colony Road and extend them to the turnaround where it turns to Class VI. At the same time, we will be working our way around town making shoulder repairs as necessary to ensure that the mail carriers can access all mailboxes in town so normal service can resume. The next priority will be to stabilize the stream/river banks in several areas where they have been scoured out next to roads, or in one case, where a new stream channel was created by the flooding. We have emergency authorization from NHDES (Dept. of Environmental Services) to conduct this work, and it is time sensitive.
In the meantime, the road agent has been, and continues to work on preparing a detailed list of repairs needed that will be used for the FEMA funding requests and for putting projects out to bid which may be required (even though we continue to maintain a contract with Remacle Construction). Part of that includes making any upgrades to drainage structures that will be economically feasible as we go along. This past rain event was purportedly classified by the National Weather Service as a "1,000 year event", or more accurately termed, as having a 0.1% annual chance of occurring. While no engineering/design standards anywhere call for specifically designing for that extreme, these "off the charts" weather events seem to happen more and more frequently, and we will do what we can to mitigate and prepare.
We thank the residents for their continued assistance and patience as we prepare to rebuild.
Scott Sanborn, Road Agent