Gov. Shumlin and Vermont emergency officials caution of flood potential
May 25, 2013 - WATERBURY - Gov. Peter Shumlin and officials with Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the Agency of Transportation today cautioned that weekend rainfall has elevated the risk of flooding across the state, and urged Vermonters to keep an eye on weather reports and local waterways. The Governor said Vermont state agencies are prepared for a weekend response, with the Vermont State Emergency Operations Center remaining open as long as needed.
“I spent part of Friday surveying damage from flash flooding that hit areas of Chittenden County hardest, but now our threat is sustained rainfall that could cause more widespread flooding in others areas of Vermont,” the Governor said. He said Vermonters should continue to drive with caution and avoid water-covered roadways, and keep an eye on local rivers and streams as the rainfall continues as forecast.
The AOT, at the request of the town, today is preparing to temporarily replace a washed out bridge in Westford that has left some homes isolated on one side of a swollen brook on Seymour Road.
The National Weather Service has forecast long steady rainfall on already saturated ground for the weekend and has issued Flood Watches and Warnings for most of the state (see the forecast at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/btv/). Heavy wet snow is also expected in higher elevations.
“This is bad news,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Cities and towns have a long way to go to recover from Thursday night and now they have to wait to see if their work will be washed away or if they will see more destruction.”
After a long day on Friday, AOT districts are on alert and have already deployed resources in anticipation of additional flooding. Some trucks have been prepped for possible plowing in the higher elevations. Traffic controls including high water signs, barrels and blockades are being staged at garages close to potential flood zones, and crews will be patrolling overnight to ensure a speedy and coordinated response to anything that may arise from this storm.
Vermont State Police will call in troopers as needed, and state Swiftwater rescue teams will be pre-deployed as flood prone areas of the state are identified based on rainfall.
Vermonters, including Gov. Shumlin and AOT Secretary Brian Searles, spent Friday surveying the damage caused by flash floods that followed several days of rain and torrential downpours that dropped up to 6 inches of rain in some areas.
A massive effort by AOT resulted in most state roads being made passable by the Friday night commute (only the Maidstone Highway remains closed) and most towns are making significant progress in repairing local roads.
Emergency responders answered calls for rescue from those who found themselves cut off by floodwaters and spent the day providing recovery resources and assistance to cities and towns.
With more flooding expected, Vermonters are encouraged to remain on alert and aware of their surroundings. If a waterway spills its banks seek higher ground immediately. Also:
• Never drive or walk through floodwaters, unseen washouts or swift undercurrents can sweep even a car away. Simply put, just stay away from floodwaters or swift running rivers.
• If you live near a major waterway that appears to be rising, chart out an evacuation route and think about where you can go. If needed, the Red Cross will open shelters for displaced persons.
• If you evacuate your home and have time to do so, turn off your circuit breaker. Have a professional inspect your electrical system before reentering your home if it has been flooded
“We will almost certainly have more damage to repair by the end of the weekend, and we will fix what needs to be fixed,” Gov. Shumlin said. “But first and foremost we are concerned for the safety of Vermonters. Take care of yourselves by staying out of harm’s way.”
Media releases will be issued as events dictate, and you can see further updates on state Facebook sites:
Vermont State Police: https://www.facebook.com/VermontStatePolice
National Weather Service Burlington: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/btv/
National Weather Service Albany (Bennington and Windham county forecast office): http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/btv/
For road conditions call 5-1-1 or visit 511vt.com.
For shelter information or other personal assistance and resources call 2-1-1; 2-1-1 is a service of the United Way.