(by Matt Sutkoski, BurlingtonFreePress.com) – Vermonters will need weeks to begin to recover from massive flooding from Tropical Storm Irene that killed at least three people and left a trail of devastation from St. Johnsbury to Bennington.
That sentiment is reverberating across Vermont, echoed by everyone from Gov. Peter Shumlin to shell-shocked homeowners…
“This is the most violent thing I’ve ever seen,” said Scott Bradley, director of public safety in flood-ravaged Mendon, seeming to speak for the countless Vermonters who watched roads, houses, bridges and businesses wash away in Sunday’s torrent.
In what is expected to be the state’s worst natural disaster since the epic flood of 1927, thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged. Hundreds of roads remain closed, and many of those will stay off-limits for days. Utilities struggled through washouts and water to begin piecing electrical lines and poles back together. Some homes might go without electricity for a week or more, utility officials said.
Up to 8.3 inches of rain, about the amount that normally falls over two months, fell in parts of Vermont in less than 24 hours. In hard-hit Waterbury, the Vermont State Office Complex was rendered unusable for several weeks because of the flood. …
Many people were staying in six Red Cross shelters across the state and in dozens of shelters in hard-hit towns.
President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency in Vermont as the disaster thrust the state into the national spotlight. The state appeared to be an afterthought as the national media geared up for the storm as it threatened New York last week, but by Monday, the Vermont flood dominated mainstream and social media.
Parts of at least 12 Vermont towns were partly or wholly inaccessible Monday afternoon. Parts of all highways across the state except Interstates 89 and 91 closed at some point during the storm.State transportation officials said more than 260 state and town roads remain closed Monday night and that it would be days or weeks before some are reopened. In Mendon, a half-mile stretch of U.S. 4 , the major central Vermont east-west thoroughfare, washed away.
Thirty-foot-deep chasms yawned where roads used to be.
The state was scrambling to find temporary spans to patch gaps left by the 35 bridges — including at least four historic covered bridges — that crumbled under the flash floods.
“Some will call for fixes that will take awhile,” [Gov.] Shumlin said. “We’re going to need a lot of temporary bridges.”
The state’s rail network also took a hit. The New England Central Railroad and all of the state-own railroads were shut down due to flood-related damage. Four rail bridges in the state were impassable and Amtrak service in Vermont has been suspended until further notice.
The Vermont National Guard had 251 soldiers helping with rescue and relief efforts around the state. That figure will increase to 350 today, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow said Monday.
Goodrow also said the New Hampshire National Guard plans to loan several Black Hawk helicopters to its Vermont counterpart today to help in the recovery effort.
By late afternoon Monday, about 35,000 homes and businesses across Vermont remained without electricity. That was down from 50,000 in the morning.
Officials with Central Vermont Public Service, the state’s largest power company, said road washouts, missing bridges and debris were preventing them from reaching some areas. The utility, which had more than 27,000 customers without power Monday afternoon, said it would be several days at least before power was restored fully.
Many buildings disappeared in the flood.
In Wardsboro, at least four houses washed away, and several others were undermined, said Warner Manzke, the town’s assistant fire chief.
A roof was found on Vermont 100 in Wilmington, but nobody knows where it came from, Szarejko said.
The K-1 Lodge Superstar Pub, at the Killington Resort in Killington, was shoved off its foundation, resort officials said. The same fate befell Birke’s Photography in Waitsfield and Brandon House of Pizza in Brandon.
Tropical Storm Irene raced away from Vermont into Canada early Monday. Flood recovery began under light winds and sunshine Monday. Aside from widely scattered light showers today and a few more scattered showers over the weekend, no precipitation is expected for the next week. …..
Contributing: Dan DAmbrosio, Mike Donoghue, Brent Hallenbeck, Terri Hallenbeck, Candace Page, Matt Ryan.
1. List the damage done in Vermont by Hurricane Irene. (see para. 3-4, 8-9, 13, 18-19, 21)
2. How long will it take for some of the many damaged/destroyed roads and bridges to be reopened?
3. What temporary solution is the Vermont government attempting to implement for the large number of bridges destroyed in the flooding?
4. In what ways is the National Guard helping in relief efforts?
5. What factors are contributing to the delayed restoration of power for some areas of Vermont?
6. Vermont was hit by the worst flooding in 100 years. It appears that many Vermonters were caught off-guard by this catastrophe. Why do you think this is so?
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Facts about the state of Vermont: (from wikipedia)
- Population: 625,741 (this is the 2nd smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming).
- Number of cities/towns: 255
- It is the only New England state not bordering the Atlantic Ocean.
- Lake Champlain forms half of Vermont’s western border, which it shares with the state of New York.
- The Green Mountains are within the state.
- It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north.
- Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States.
- The state capital is Montpelier, which with 7,705 people is the least-populated state capital in the country. Its most populous city is Burlington, which has a metro population of 211,261 residents.
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