State Is Assessing Damage After Weekend Flash Flooding Hits Central Vermont

Jul 5, 2017

Vermont officials are determining whether damage from this past weekend's flooding meets the threshold for federal assistance. Flash floods hit roads, homes and businesses, especially in Windsor, Orange and Rutland Counties in Vermont and in Grafton County, New Hampshire.

State Response

Erica Bornemann, head of Vermont Emergency Management, said roads took the brunt of the damage.

"There are still some local roads that are closed or only open to one lane, and we know that towns are working really hard to get those open for folks," Bornemann said.

Bornemann said state and local officials are assessing damage now. She said it takes some time to verify the impact of flood damage before sending a request for assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"The reason that's important is because it helps us make the best case possible when requesting a major disaster declaration," Bornemann said.

The state has 30 days from the flooding event to make that request to federal officials. The threshold for a disaster declaration is $1 million in damage statewide, according to Vermont Emergency Management.

Bornemann says homeowners and business owners who were affected by flooding should report damage to their towns. Residents who need assistance with flood cleanup should call 211.

Local Impact

Mary Russ is the Executive Director with White River Partnership, a non-profit whose mission is to improve the long-term health of the White River and its watershed.

She said that water levels in the White River show that the flooding that happened on July 1 was not all that out of the ordinary. But a lot of infrastructure could not withstand the three inches that came down in a matter of hours.

She says after Hurricane Irene, the State of Vermont created a new permitting system to try to help prevent the damage to roads in these types of floods.

It's called a Gravel Roads Permit.

“The idea is that towns should be encouraged, and many are already doing it, to do some maintenance on their roads that make sure all the ditches work, they're all connected, that the roads are crammed so there are a lot of best management practices that the state is encouraging to avoid this type of damage,” she said in her office in Royalton.

She added that those changes are imminently on the horizon.

Russ also said that culverts that were put in place with FEMA dollars after Hurricane Irene, with stood the recent storm. “We have evidence that that type of culvert, that sizing, that type of installation could even survive an Irene event,” Russ said of the culverts put in place in nearby Rochester.

“We know it’s a resilient design and they certainly withstood the test of this particular downpour." She thinks they are a standard that should be implemented going forward.