Gov. Shumlin urges Vermonters to remain vigilant with more flooding forecasted
July 5, 2013 - MONTPELIER - Gov. Peter Shumlin today urged Vermonters in flood-impacted regions to use special caution following two weeks of isolated storms that have produced deadly lightning and swift currents in streams and rivers. That weather pattern -- which has indirectly led to at least two deaths, stranded homes and cars in high water, and damaged and destroyed roads and bridges -- is forecast to continue through next Thursday.
“The ground is so saturated after days and days of rain that any precipitation can cause serious flooding at this point,” Gov. Shumlin said this afternoon, shortly after a briefing that included information from the National Weather Service, Agency of Transportation, Emergency Management and Homeland Security, local emergency officials, and others. “Vermonters need to use common sense in avoiding high water areas, keeping an eye out for flooding, watching the level of Lake Champlain, which is approaching flood stage, and notifying local emergency officials if they spot problems.”
The Governor noted that damage has been isolated but spread throughout the state. Areas in Southern Vermont were hit earlier in the week, and Chittenden County and Central Vermont communities experienced damage mid-week. Northern Vermont closer to the Canadian border is forecast to experience storms and rainfall today and tonight.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials will be arriving in Vermont next Tuesday to assess damage, starting with Chittenden, Washington and Windsor Counties, possibly including Lamoille County, and adding others as warranted by weather. The state Agency of Transportation is including damage from storms that date back to May 22 in that request, which if approved would provide federal assistance for flood cleanup and repair.
AOT Secretary Brian Searles said the rough estimate for road damage as of today on the State system is in excess of $3 million. Damage to the New England Central Railroad in Roxbury is estimated at $750,000 and is under repair. The Vermonter has been suspended and passengers are being bused from Springfield. It is not clear when service will resume.
Gov. Shumlin gave a shout-out to the state AOT crews -- about 200 maintenance staff are involved, and staff are moving between Districts as needed – as well as local road workers and emergency responders who have devoted their Fourth of July holiday and now face a weekend of additional overtime to deal with the storms.