Montpelier, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott and State Officials today provided an update on the State’s response to catastrophic flooding impacting communities across Vermont.
“Make no mistake, the devastation and flooding we’re experiencing across Vermont is historic and catastrophic, said Governor Scott. “Although the comings days, weeks and months will be incredibility difficult, we’ve faced challenges before, and Vermonters have risen to meet the moment. Whether during Irene, COVID or other hardships, Vermonters have proven time and time again we’re willing and able to step up and help our neighbors”
A transcript of Governor Scott and Public Safety Commissioner Jen Morrison’s remarks can be found below.
Governor Scott: I know the last 48 hours haven’t been easy for many. I actually had to hike the VAST trail to get to a drivable road to get home and to work this morning.
I also know some reporters slept in their cars last night, along with many others due to I-89 being closed, and I appreciate members of the media for their work to keep Vermonters informed and safe.
Earlier today, while overseas, President Biden approved my request for a disaster declaration for all 14 Counties.
This will help mobilize federal resources to support our response and recovery efforts for this unfolding and ongoing disaster.
Make no mistake, the devastation and flooding we’re experiencing across Vermont is historic and catastrophic.
Flood waters continue to rise in some places like our capital city and have surpassed levels seen during Tropical Storm Irene.
The good news is the rain has stopped in some areas, but that DOES NOT mean waters will immediately recede.
They may in fact continue to rise.
Even though the sun may shine later today and tomorrow, we expect more rain later this week which will have nowhere to go in the over-saturated ground.
So I want to be clear, we are not out of the woods.
This is nowhere near over, and at this phase, our primary focus continues to be on life and safety before we can shift into a recovery phase.
I know thousands of Vermonters have lost homes, businesses and more. The devastation is far reaching.
Although the comings days, weeks and months will be incredibility difficult, we’ve faced challenges before, and Vermonters have risen to meet the moment.
Whether during Irene, COVID or other hardships, Vermonters have proven time and time again we’re willing and able to step up and help our neighbors.
We’re already seeing that again here, and this spirit of resilience and goodwill will help get us through this challenge.
So many Vermonters have been working around the clock, saving lives, and helping those in need.
We’re all in their debt and will be forever grateful.
But it will take all of us, pulling in the same direction. So, I’m asking all Vermonters to think about how you can help locally. Even just checking in on a neighbor can make a big difference.
Again, if you need help, call 2-1-1 or if you’re in a life-threatening situation, call 9-1-1.
Commissioner Morrison: Good morning. I will provide a situation update related to ongoing threats and rescue operations. I will also provide some information about emergency shelters and volunteering.
Rivers are creating severe flooding issues this morning, even along those that have not yet crested – it will take some time for rivers to recede. The Montpelier/Barre area as well as the Ludlow/Londonderry/Andover and surrounding towns have been the hardest hit. Many other towns are experiencing significant flooding.
Please stay away from impacted areas as travel is difficult, the weather and water levels are still dynamic, and crews will soon be working on repairs.
Vermont’s 13 swift water rescue teams have now performed more than 100 rescues throughout the state and are still extremely busy. Additionally, five teams from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and North Carolina are in state and assisting. More teams are in route to Vermont to assist with what will be a days or weeks long effort. In many areas, water conditions remain too dangerous for rescue boats.
Five helicopters from the Vermont & NH National Guards are in the air this morning assisting in operations. They are conducting evacuations in the hardest hit and most remote areas that are not accessible by swiftwater teams and assisting with eyes in the sky.
DO NOT TAKE ANY CHANCES, stay away from rivers and flooded areas. Keep yourself and your family safe by staying well clear of damaged and flooded areas. There are countless road washouts around the state, please respect all detours and never drive across a flooded road. Any individual reporting a life-threatening situation should dial 9-1-1.
For a list of state road closures visit https://newengland511.org/. Interstate 89 north and south bound near exit 8 have re-opened.
Vermonters can track river forecasts and levels at https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=btv.
Residents are encouraged to register for a Vermont Alert account at www.vtalert.gov to receive up to the minute safety warnings.
We have structural collapse teams staged across the state as well as fire and code inspectors who are prepared to deploy as soon as the water recedes to ensure impacted buildings are safe.
We have State Troopers deployed throughout the state, and patrol zones are being constantly adjusted to allow for statewide coverage regardless of road closures. Troopers have been exceedingly busy with assisting stranded motorists, performing welfare checks and reconnoitering the state’s roads.
We will be deploying unmanned aerial aircraft to assist in locating stranded persons and to assess flooding and impacts.
As of 9:30 no injuries or deaths have been reported.
I want to reiterate that we are still in the earliest stages of this disaster. Our focus is on saving lives.
There are areas still being evacuated and there are life-threatening isolations that we are trying to identify and rescue.
There will come a time when we need the help of all Vermonters to recover from this disaster, but we are not there yet. For now, please focus your volunteer energy at the hyper-local level. Check on your neighbors and the most vulnerable in your neighborhood.
Your best move today is to either Register at Vermont.gov/volunteer so that we can contact you when the time is right, OR affiliate with a reputable disaster relief organization directly and become part of their team.
Only deploy when you have a specific volunteer assignment. Please do not self-deploy. Floodwaters are receding, but still posing hazards.
Before I turn this over to Colonel Poirier, I want to say a quick word about shelters. If you are in need of shelter, you can do one of the following: Call 211; or follow the direction provided by your local officials; or go to an open shelter – in addition to 15 locally operated shelters, there are currently three State run shelters. They are Barre Auditorium (219 beds), Rutland High School (170 beds ) and later today Hartford High School will open (155 beds).
My closing words are this: stay safe and take care of each other.