Floodwaters have subsided in Vermont cities and towns that were severely impacted by a massive storm. This storm brought an unprecedented amount of rain, equivalent to two months’ worth, in just two days. The aftermath of the disaster has left residents trapped in their homes, roads closed, and streets and businesses filled with mud and debris.
In Montpelier, Vermont’s capital city, the water has finally drained off after streets were flooded by the swollen Winooski River. Concerns about a dam upstream have eased as water levels stabilize. The town manager, Bill Fraser, expressed relief that the dam is holding, allowing the city to shift its focus to recovery efforts. Public works employees are now engaged in removing mud and debris from downtown areas, with building inspections to follow as businesses begin the process of cleaning up their properties. The downtown area of Montpelier experienced extensive damage, with brown water from the Winooski River reaching the tops of parking meters and flooding basements, resulting in the loss of contents stored on lower floors. Similar scenes played out in neighboring Barre and Bridgewater, where the Ottauquechee River overflowed its banks.
Governor Phil Scott, along with Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), planned to tour the flood-affected areas. This visit follows President Joe Biden’s declaration of a state of emergency in Vermont, authorizing federal disaster relief assistance.
The storm moved slowly across the region, dumping between 7 and 9 inches of rain on various parts of New England, New York, and Connecticut. The Hudson River Valley in New York and towns in southwest New Hampshire and western Massachusetts also experienced heavy flooding and road washouts. The excess water flowed through Connecticut, carrying debris, including entire trees, as it made its way south to Long Island Sound. Major waterways, such as the Connecticut River, exceeded their banks and are expected to crest at up to 6 feet above flood stage. This has resulted in road closures and the closure of riverside parks in multiple cities. While more rain is forecasted for Thursday and Friday, meteorologists have reassured the public that the area will not experience any more torrential downpours.
Thankfully, there have been no reports of injuries or deaths related to the flooding in Vermont. The state’s swift-water rescue teams, aided by National Guard helicopter crews, have successfully performed over 175 rescues. However, there was tragic news in Fort Montgomery, New York, where a woman lost her life while trying to escape her flooded home with her dog.
As a result of the flooding, approximately 12 Vermont communities, including the state capital, were placed under a boil water alert. The American Red Cross of Northern New England has been working diligently to provide food and water to its shelters in Barre, Rutland, and White River Junction. The number of individuals seeking shelter has decreased, with only 58 people at the Barre Municipal Auditorium shelter compared to over 200 on the previous day. However, the Red Cross continues to receive support from volunteers across the Northeast who are assisting with a range of tasks, from disaster assessment to distributing clean-up kits to affected homeowners.
Governor Scott noted that the floodwaters surpassed levels seen during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. That storm resulted in the loss of six lives and caused extensive damage to homes, bridges, and highways across Vermont.
Scientific experts suggest that such destructive flooding events are occurring more frequently as storms form in a warmer atmosphere, and rising global temperatures are likely to exacerbate this problem.
In the town of Ludlow, efforts are focused on reopening roadways, checking on isolated homeowners, and cleaning out mud and debris from waterlogged businesses. The town’s water treatment plant remains out of commission, and the main supermarket and a major roadway through town remain closed. The full extent of the damage to houses is still unknown, as numerous businesses have been severely affected. Additionally, the town’s Little League field and a recently constructed skate park have been completely destroyed. Despite these challenges, the community of Ludlow is coming together to support one another, providing hope for recovery.
Residents like Colleen Dooley, a retired teacher, returned to their condominium complex to find it covered in silt and mud, with the pool filled with muddy river water. She expressed uncertainty about when they will be able to move back, recognizing that it will likely be a lengthy process.
As the affected communities focus on recovery efforts, more rain is on the horizon. However, officials are determined to remain prepared and assert that they can handle any additional impacts that may occur. The resilience and togetherness demonstrated by the residents of Vermont give hope for the future as they work to rebuild and overcome the aftermath of this devastating storm.
– Lisa Rathke (Source: The Epoch Times)