It Could be Weeks Before all Vt. Homes get Power; Worst Flooding in a Century; Check out Raw Video

Posted by jcashman

Courtesy of Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont awoke Monday to the aftermath of the storm that was Hurricane Irene with communities cut off, almost 50,000 customers without power, hundreds of roads closed, at least two deaths and the loss of a dozen bridges.

Gov. Peter Shumlin called it the worst flooding in the state in a century.

“We prepared for the worst and we got the worst in central and southern Vermont,” Shumlin said Monday. “We have extraordinary infrastructure damage.”

Vermont Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said a half-dozen state-owned bridges and at least that many local spans were “gone.”

“Some of this can’t be assessed because the water is still very high,” he said. “Some will call for fixes that will take a while. We’re going to need a lot of temporary bridges.”

Shumlin was touring the state in a National Guard helicopter with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy.

“We haven’t seen flooding like this, certainly since the early part of the 1900s. The areas that got flooding are in really tough shape,” Shumlin said.

Historically, a flood from 1927 is considered to be Vermont’s greatest natural disaster.

A body was recovered overnight from the Deerfield River. It is believed to be that of a woman who fell in while watching flooding in Wilmington, said a spokeswoman for Shumlin.

On Monday, a body was recovered near Rutland where officials were searching for two men lost when they went to inspect the inlet to the city’s water system. The search continued.

Searles said that on portions of the Otter Creek and the Winooski River, the flood levels were the highest ever recorded, exceeding even the 1927 flood.

“This is being compared to the flood of ’27. I think those comparisons are going to prove to be valid once we’ve tallied all the damage,” Searles said.

On Monday, President Barack Obama declared Vermont a federal disaster area.

A threat to the Marshfield dam, upriver from Montpelier, abated overnight, eliminating the possibility engineers would have to release water, which would have increased flood waters in the already swollen Winooski River.

Residents of 350 households as far downstream as East Montpelier were asked to leave Sunday evening as a precaution, GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said.

“Water levels have stabilized. If conditions continue like this we’ll be fine, but we’re continuing to monitor to see if anything changes,” she said.

National Weather Service Hydrologist Greg Hanson called the storm “one of the top weather-related disasters in Vermont’s history.”

“We’ve heard reports of houses and cars washing away,” Hanson said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed all those were empty.”

Parts of downtown Brattleboro and Bennington were under water Sunday after the storm passed. At least nine shelters were set up across the state, although it’s unclear how many people spent the night in them.

The storm began with rain early Sunday, heaviest in the southern part of the state, moving slowing north as the day went on. By late afternoon, officials were reporting roads closed by flooding from Guilford on the Massachusetts line to Derby, which borders Quebec.

“If you follow the path of the storm there wasn’t a single area of the state that was spared. It hit the south first, but then it worked its way north,” Vermont Emergency Management spokesman Robert Stirewalt said early Monday.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.



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Posted by jcashman on Aug 29 2011. Filed under Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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