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Flooding New Hampshire

Alstead, NH Flood Damage / Alstead Historical Society

We love self-published books, especially those that involve students in documenting local history. Too Much Water, Too Much Rain is the story of the flood that devastated parts of Alstead, New Hampshire in 2005. IN its first few months in print, this book sold 2,000 copies.




The Full Story of the Alstead Flood

As we post this web page in the spring of 2007 the rain is pounding down outside our Portsmouth office. The sump pump is on in the house as the cellar fills up with water. The weatherman is calling it a rare spring Nor’easter – more bad weather in a state that knows bad weather. New Hampshire’s Mount Washington has recorded the highest wind speed in the world – 234 miles per hour in April of 1934.

This extraordinary book documents the flood that struck Alstead, New Hampshire in October 2005, The book studies the water table in the region, covers the lead-up to the storm, then chronicles the flood hour by hour. Student and community contributors track the damage, both physical and emotion, then show how the people of Alstead pulled together to deal with the crisis. -- JDR

Alstead Historical Society Flood Damage


On October 9th 2005, a flood wave swept through the rural town of Alstead, New Hampshire. The Cold River flood was the greatest natural disaster ever to affect the town in all its 242-year history. This event impacted everyone differently, creating heroes and changing the lives of all who witnessed the rising waters. Each person has a story to tell, and The Alstead Historical Society (AHS) recognized the need to compile a history of the devastating event.

Too Much Water, Too Much Rain book coverThree months later, on January 25th 2006, The History Channel awarded the Alstead Historical Society a $9,480 Save Our History grant to assist local elementary, middle, and high school students in documenting the effects of the 2005 Alstead Flood on the community. The AHS is one of 26 history organizations that received Save Our History grants in 2006. For Alstead, the grant provided funding for innovative, educational projects designed to bring the community together, actively engage children in the preservation of their local history and communicate the importance of saving local history for future generations.

Over the course of the next nine months, The AHS engaged more than 115 students from Alstead Primary School, The Orchard School, Vilas Middle School, and Fall Mountain Regional High School to capture the tragic events and produce permanent educational resources for future generations. Students provided their own first-hand accounts of the disaster and conducted numerous one-on-one interviews with local residents who lost their homes, volunteers who rallied to feed and house the displaced, and community leaders charged with rebuilding the community. Their purpose was to not only document the devastation that the community suffered, but also to highlight the triumphant spirit of a small town where neighbors came together to overcome adversity.

With the information gathered, the students helped the AHS to create a flood archive, museum exhibit, and ultimately the publication TOO MUCH WATER, TOO MUCH RAIN. The full-color, hardcover book, published through PublishingWorks in Exeter, NH, includes an hour-by-hour account of the water buildup as it escalated, leading to the collapse of a crucial culvert. The heavy rains and flooding killed seven people and caused tens of millions of dollars' worth of damage throughout southwestern New Hampshire, destroying 36 homes and heavily damaging at least 50 more in about 20 communities.

October 2005 Flood Damage in NH/ Alstead Historical Society

TOO MUCH WATER, TOO MUCH RAIN was released in December of 2006 and quickly sold out of its 2,000 copy first printing. The response from community members and bookstores across New England was simply phenomenal. Customers called in from as far away as Hawaii to order the book. When asked of their connection, many callers responded only that they had once "passed through" the small town, known someone who lived there, or heard about the tragedy through newspaper and television reports. Whatever the reason for the order, calls came pouring in. Bookstores in the region placed order after order to restock their shelves claiming that they simply couldn't keep TOO MUCH WATER, TOO MUCH RAIN in their stores.

Just two weeks after publication, TOO MUCH WATER, TOO MUCH RAIN was completely out of stock. Its distributor, Revolution Booksellers, continued to field large orders from frantic bookshop owners. It was obvious that another printing would be necessary. Three thousand more copies of the book are expected to arrive at Revolution Booksellers at the end of the month.

The Town of Alstead will never be the same. As this book shows, the town found strength in the tragedy and discovered the generous spirit of neighbors helping neighbors. During the flood and long after the floodwaters receded, help poured in not only from the towns bordering Alstead, but all of New Hampshire, the nation and the world. As with the generosity associated with the event, the curiosity and compassion of readers reveals a deeply seeded love of our fellow man. Responses to TOO MUCH WATER, TOO MUCH RAIN have been pure emotion. People who are completely unassociated with the event are still touched by this tale of natural disaster, heart-wrenching loss and painful recovery that brought this town together through tragedy.

The Story of the Alstead Flood
By the Alstead Historical Society
Hardcover, 170pp
Revolution Booksellers


"This wonderful and poignant book is proof that all history is personal. What happens to our neighbors is as important, if not more important, as what happens in Washington, D.C. and the world. And through this incredibly moving act of personal history we begin to heal ourselves and come to terms with our numbing loss."
~Ken Burns, Florentine Films
Walpole, New Hampshire

"This is a remarkable, mature, and thoughtful achievement. In the course of working together to document the impact of a natural disaster on their town, these students learned a great deal about what community is."
~Burt Feintuch, Director, Center for the Humanities
University of New Hampshire

"This book is a testament to the extraordinary efforts of the Alstead Historical Society and all of the students involved. It underscores the importance of the Save Our History national initiative - providing historical organizations with the much needed resources to ensure that their local heritage is preserved. The Alstead community was clearly inspired to come together after their town's tragedy to preserve this moment in history for future generations."
~ Judy Klein Frimer, Director of Consumer Promotions
The History Channel Save Our History program

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