Rain and melting snow overnight Sunday left road crews and emergency responders across Vermont with plenty to do Monday.
“It was a hit-or-miss storm across the region,” said Ed Bove, executive director of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission. The commission reaches out to its member towns after storms to take stock of damage and forward that information to the state.
Bove said if the damage total reaches a certain threshold, the state can access federal emergency funds for the repairs.
He said there might have been enough damage done statewide to trigger the release of those federal funds. He said seemingly small storms have done so in the past.
“The health and safety of Vermonters is our number-one priority today,” said Gov. Phil Scott in an email circulated by the state Department of Public Safety. “State personnel and our partners are working with local responders to that end, and the public can take simple steps to keep themselves safe — we are encouraging everyone to use caution and common sense around floodwaters.”
Emergency officials urged citizens not to drive through floodwaters.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) posted numerous closures and lane restrictions to its Twitter feed, @AOTVermont, throughout the day.
A dam overtopped and a road spent a few hours closed, but most of the flooding was outside the city Monday.
“I don’t know why we’re escaping it,” Mayor David Allaire said Monday afternoon. “Considering the amount of rain around us, we’re very lucky in the city.”
Allaire said he had to abandon a trip to Montpelier to discuss the opioid epidemic because of flooding on Route 107.
Pearl Street was closed from 7 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m., according to city engineer James Rotundo, and the Dunklee Pond Dam overtopped.
“We put some material there to back it up, reinforce it,” Rotundo said.
Allaire said one resident near the dam was evacuated as a precautionary measure, but was able to return home later in the day.
The dam, which was built in the 1880s to create a pond for an ice-harvesting business, was officially declared a public safety hazard last year after city officials said it was “one pounding rainstorm away” from failing. Allaire said Monday the city is working with the state to create a plan and find funding to remove the dam.
“It’s probably going to take a year or two to put it all together, but we are going to move forward there,” he said.
Allaire said the state stationed a Middlebury-based rescue team in the city because it looked like the weather was going to be the most severe in Rutland County, and that the Rutland City Fire Department’s high-water rescue team deployed to get a motorist off the roof of his car after he got stuck in high water in Killington.
Rotundo said the city’s rain gauges measured 2.5 inches. He said the flood doors were closed at the Dorr Drive and River Street pump stations and that the sewer system was pumping at capacity.
“We started having overflows at all locations this morning,” he said. “Right now, we’re still going through and getting all the numbers.”
Around 4:15 p.m., Green Mountain Power listed about 750 customers without power. More than half of them, about 450, were in Pittsfield.
Kristin Kelly, a spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power (GMP) said the outage was reported around 6:30 a.m. Two utility poles in the area of Pittsfield in Rutland County and Stockbridge in Windsor County were washed away after the White River had risen near the Timberhawk Recreation Area.
About 10 crew members were on the Pittsfield side of the river Monday morning in deep mud, slowly driving heavy utility trucks across soft roads. Crew members in that area said they were too busy trying to get power restored to explain what they were repairing.
Kelly said GMP crews were on scene early Monday between Route 100 and Blackmeer Road, but had to wait until the water receded before they could access the site.
Around 4:25 p.m., crews were on track to have the poles replaced and power restored by Monday evening.
Doug and Kim Kennedy, husband and wife, were serving customers Monday at the Original General Store in Pittsfield. Doug Kennedy said the store turned on its diesel generator around 6:45 a.m.
He said it had taken some doing to get all of the store’s equipment connected to extension cords. The general store was serving hot coffee but couldn’t take credit cards.
Josh and Nathaniel Kennedy, Doug and Kim’s sons, were visiting their parents at the store after a busy day with the Stockbridge Fire Department, where both are members.
They said Monday morning had been busy with swift water rescues including one where they safely got a resident, a dog and a cat out of a home and another where a driver whose car was stuck in the water had to be rescued.
Several roads in town were closed Monday morning, said Brandon Fire Chief Roman Wdoviak, though no firefighters had been called out as of 1:30 p.m. The department posted to its Facebook page a long list of road closures. Among them were Wheeler Road and Union Street. According to the post, while water levels were down in some areas, they might rise again due to snowmelt. A flash flood warning was in effect Monday until 10 a.m. According to Brandon Fire Department, a river flood watch is in effect until 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The repair work done to several roads that were damaged during mud season is holding up, said Town Manager Mike Jones, who spent Monday morning riding around with Castleton Police and firefighters.
He said Belgo Road was hit particularly hard by the latest rainfall. Water was going into one resident’s basement, which the highway crew was working to divert. Several culverts on East Hubbardton Road were overwhelmed, leading to water across the road in some areas. Some of the pavement has also been undermined, he said. Pond Hill Road was shut down as well, and there were a number of driveways covered by water.
Route 30 from Castleton Four Corners to Brown Four Corners was closed for several hours due to flooding, said Jones. Water came up to the doorstep of one business, he added, but didn’t flow in.
Route 4A was also closed, and remained so as of 3:30 p.m. Dewey Field was completely underwater, said Jones. There was some concern for the bridge on North Road, but according to Jones, it should be fine.
He said the highway crew will likely be working on repairs for days to come. Despite that, he said the damage wasn’t as bad as some had feared. Communication between the highway and fire departments, as well as emergency medical services, was good. He said ambulance crews and firefighters all know what roads are impacted in case there’s an emergency call.
Most roads south of Alfrecia Road were closed Monday morning, including Walker Mountain Road, known locally as “The Flats,” according to Clarendon Road Commissioner Cash Ruane.
“The water is fast, a lot more than I’ve seen in the past,” he said.
He said water is over the road in many places, and believes some erosion is taking place. Road closure signs are up, as are traffic cones where the roads have been undermined.
When reached by phone before noon, Ruane said it was too early to tell the extent of the damage. He said he’s heard reports of a few basements with water in them, but hasn’t heard of anything more serious. Town road crew members AOT workers have been out looking at town bridges. Ruane said none appear to be damaged, but the water was too high to tell with certainty.
Ruane said he’s aware of weather reports calling for more rain later in the day.
Town Manager John Haverstock said several roads were affected by the water, but compared to other areas, the town got off light. Corn Hill Road was closed temporarily, and while it’s being repaired, it’s now passable.
The Pittsford Town Fire Department posted to its Facebook page Monday a list of several road closures. Gorham Bridge Road, Elm Street, Depot Hill Road and Goat Farm Road were closed. Corn Hill Road was restricted to one lane at the time of the posting, owing to a washout near Fox Farm.
In Proctor, Mike Andronaco, of Richard Reed & Son Contractors in Pittsford, said he and other workers were trying to put a section of Williams Street, near the intersection with East Street, back into use.
While other sections of the road on the other side of East Street were damaged, Andronaco said the priority Monday afternoon was to make the road safe enough for people to get to and from their homes.
In Rochester, AOT crews were working on a culvert near Riverbend Farm that had backed up and created a hole near the side of the road that seemed to threaten to undermine the road.
In Rutland Town, Road Commissioner Byron Hathaway said the biggest trouble spot was Post Road and the intersection with Route 7, noting that a road closure there put additional traffic onto town roads.
McKinley Avenue also saw a closure, Hathaway said, and there were washouts on each side of McKinley Avenue Hill, where some pavement was lost. He said the damage there was likely to cost about $5,000 in repairs.
Hathaway said this was one of the more significant weather events he’s seen in town.
Deputy Fire Chief Mark Barone said there hadn’t been much flooding in Wallingford — only the south end of Hartsboro Road was closed due to high water.
Staff writers Patrick McArdle and Gordon Dritschilo contributed to this report.