Vermont ‘underwater’ as it deals with record flooding from Irene
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Vermont faced its worst flooding in decades in the wake of Irene, with parts of the state remaining underwater Monday morning even as rivers had begun receding. There were widespread reports of flash flooding as well as downed power lines and washed-out roads.
More than 50,000 people were without power, which was unlikely to be restored for days. And there were new hazards created by propane tanks that had been ripped from their foundation by the rain and floods. The state is among the hardest-hit by Irene, which made landfall in North Carolina as a hurricane but was downgraded to a tropical storm as it made its way up the coast and into New England. The damage is so severe that President Obama signed an emergency declaration Monday to speed needed supplies and federal resources to help Vermont’s cleanup and recovery.
Residents were urged to stay off the roads, in part because emergency services were being pressed to their limits with officials cautioning that they could not get to everyone. Cars were swept away on flooded roads and many roads were impassable, leading to numerous closures.
There has been at least one fatality, emergency officials said Monday -- a woman who was swept away by the Deerfield River in southern Vermont on Sunday. Emergency officials could not immediately confirm her identity.
Rising floodwaters near the swollen Winooski River led the state’s emergency operations center in Waterbury to evacuate early Monday morning, forcing officials to relocate to FEMA offices in Burlington. Power and phone outages were widespread –- even emergency management officials were having trouble accessing email. All state offices were closed on Monday.
At least nine shelters were opened across the state, including six operated by the Red Cross in Brattleboro, Springfield, Hartford, Rutland, Barre and St. Johnsbury. Residents with private wells were urged to boil water; so was the entire town of Manchester, where a water main had broken.
-- Maeve Reston in Brattleboro, Vt.
Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press