HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) — A massive storm with winds topping 70 mph on Monday left more than 120,000 homes and businesses in the dark and swept away plans by the presidential campaigns to hold events in the state.
A man was critically injured Monday evening in Windham by a falling tree as the state was being pounded by powerful gusts, said Katya Brennan, a spokeswoman for the state Emergency Operation Center. Windham police were unable to provide details.
The National Weather Service reported gusts of 60 mph in Portsmouth, 62 mph in Londonderry and 76 mph at the Isle of Shoals, just off the coast. Forecasters said rainfall could reach up to 4 inches.
Gov. John Lynch declared a state of emergency, urging motorists to stay off roads and sending nonessential state workers home at 3 p.m.
"Water in the roadways, flying debris and downed power lines are all possible because of the severity of this storm, which is why we are urging people to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary," Lynch said.
Superstorm Sandy, no longer a hurricane, remained dangerous after slamming ashore in New Jersey and combining with two other weather systems.
Lynch encouraged people to stay away from the dangerous surf, but some were drawn to the ocean's fury. Dimitri Garbuzov was supposed to be working from home in Dover but was lured to Hampton Beach by the images he saw on a surf cam.
"I just got into surfing recently, and I knew the waves were going to be impressive," the 30-year-old said. "Plus, I've never seen what the ocean looks like in a storm."
Though the beach was closed, dozens of onlookers gathered on the sidewalks, some cheering as if they were on an amusement park ride each time a wave crashed over the seawall.
Goffstown's resident Elaine St. Pierre said she initially thought her husband was crazy to suggest driving to Hampton but called it "a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
"I'm glad we came, but I'll be glad to get home," St. Pierre, 69, said as she got sprayed by the water.
Some marshy areas and roads near the beach were flooded. In nearby Portsmouth, the library, City Hall and other buildings closed at 4 p.m. and Halloween trick-or-treating, originally planned for Tuesday, was postponed until Saturday. The ports of Portsmouth and Portland, Maine, took the unusual steps of closing to commercial traffic at 5 p.m., the Coast Guard said.
Politicians surrendered to the storm. Democratic Vice President Joe Biden canceled a rally planned for Monday in Keene, and Republican Mitt Romney's wife, Ann Romney, called off her bus tour through the state. Both campaigns urged supporters to donate money, goods or supplies for the relief effort for Sandy victims.
Romney campaign volunteer Cheryl Poussard, of Hampstead, was looking forward to seeing Ann Romney. Instead, she stayed at the campaign's office in Derry and helped make phone calls.
Mitt Romney had planned to hold a rally in Milford on Tuesday night, but that also was canceled, as was first lady Michelle Obama's appearance at the University of New Hampshire.
In Concord, cooking supply shop owner Mike Beauregard said President Barack Obama's decision to cancel his campaign plans elsewhere Monday to focus on his official duties shouldn't be viewed as a political move.
"The last thing first responders need is for these folks to be running around," said Beauregard, an independent who leans Republican but declined to say for whom he's voting.
Numerous schools across the state were closed, and flights were canceled at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. At least 13 shelters opened.
Earlier, Lynch put 100 New Hampshire Guard soldiers on active duty to conduct wellness checks, assist with debris removal and distribute food and water. Utilities secured crews from Canada and a number of states as they prepared for tree damage to equipment and prolonged power outages.
Public Service of New Hampshire, the largest utility in the state, requested an additional 550 line crews in addition to its own. Crews were arriving from Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. PSNH also staged 100 tree-trimming crews around the state and requested more.
Unitil Corp., which serves customers in the Seacoast area and around Concord, said it secured more than 250 crews from as far away as Michigan, Tennessee and Canada.
Unitil spokesman Alec O'Meara urged patience, saying some people will get their power restored only to lose it again.
"It's going to be a long time," he said, "before we see the other side of this storm."
Associated Press writers Kathy McCormack and Norma Love in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.