Vermont Flooding: What to Know

Vermont Flooding: What to Know

After a powerful storm dumped nine inches of rain on parts of Vermont, residents of towns and cities across the state are only beginning to grapple with the devastation unleashed by the floodwaters.

Although skies cleared after Monday’s storm and rivers overflowed, officials warned people to be vigilant as more rain is expected in the coming days.

Here’s what you need to know about flooding:

The storm first hit New York state on Sunday, where one person died from fast-moving floodwaters. In less than four hours, more than seven inches of rain fell on the West End. Several train lines in the state, such as Metro-North’s Hudson and Harlem lines, were shut down Monday as a result of fallen trees, mud and boulders blocking the tracks.

The system then moved north into New England, causing severe flooding that forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes in Vermont.

At least two of Vermont’s rivers — the Winooski, which runs through Montpelier, Vermont’s capital, and Lamoille — exceeded the levels reached during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Flooding closed major roads and state highways, and city officials in Montpelier issued an emergency order Tuesday, temporarily closing the flooded downtown area.

Vermont Governor Bill Scott described the flooding as “historic and catastrophic” and said Tuesday that thousands of residents had lost their homes, businesses and more.

As of Wednesday morning, Vermont officials said no injuries or deaths had been reported, but they cautioned that the rescue was still ongoing.

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“I think we all understand that we’re living through the worst natural disaster to hit the state of Vermont since 1927, when dozens of people died,” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Wednesday, after the devastating floods that hit the state that year.

More than 200 rescues were carried out as crews used boats and helicopters to pull people from flooded homes and cars, officials said Wednesday.

Jennifer Morrison of the Vermont Department of Public Safety said Wednesday that the state is already in “much better shape” than it was a day ago.

One of the biggest concerns this week is whether the Wrightsville Dam north of Montpelier will exceed its capacity.

Montpelier City Manager William Fraser said Tuesday that the dam is nearly full and could spill into the North Branch River.

“This has never happened since the dam was built, so there is no precedent for potential damage,” he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, water was only about a foot below the dam’s auxiliary spillway, but the rate of rise had slowed, city officials said.

The officials will keep a close watch on the dam in the next few days, said Mr. Despite what Scott said Wednesday, the water began receding overnight.

Flooding and storm debris forced the closure of dozens of roads across the state, including Interstate 89, which closed Monday night, stranding many motorists overnight.

Officials said Wednesday they have begun compiling reports on damage and destroyed infrastructure.

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But with parts of Vermont still hard to reach and damage spread over a large area, officials said it will take time to provide a total count of homes, businesses, roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Montpelier Police Chief Eric W. Nordenson said Tuesday that the city’s resources were initially “stretched pretty thin” by calls for help.

In other towns, such as Londonderry, which was heavily affected by Monday’s flooding, clean-up operations continued until Tuesday afternoon.

In New York, officials on Monday estimated the damage to be in the tens of thousands of dollars to repair.

“My friends, this is the new normal,” New York Gov. Cathy Hochul said Monday, referring to the effect of climate change on flooding. People should “be prepared for the worst, because the worst keeps happening,” he said.

As stated therein National Weather Service, Wednesday is forecast to be generally sunny across Vermont. However, showers and thunderstorms are possible Thursday across much of Vermont, New Hampshire and eastern New York.

Mr. Scott warned Wednesday that, with the sun shining and water receding in some areas, the chapter is far from over.

“With rain in the forecast, we could see the water rise again when it didn’t go anywhere,” he said.


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