Mad River rose five feet after one inch of rainfall last night
by Guy Page
Last night, after just one inch of rainfall, the Mad River rose five feet, Gov. Phil Scott said at his press briefing today.
Normally an inch of rainfall would raise the western Washington County river by just a foot, he said.
Gov. Phil Scott blamed over-saturated land. Normally, soil absorbs most of the runoff. But not now, after a month of heavy rains and flooding.
“There’s nowhere for the water to go,” Scott said.
Soggy soil contributed to last week’s second round of flooding that hit Addison and Rutland counties. Urban rescue workers rescued 216 flood-stranded Vermonters in Addison County Thursday night and Rutland County Friday night. A swiftboat was significantly damaged.
If more rain falls, Scott may issue a second emergency declaration, seeking yet more federal disaster relief.
New declaration or not, Vermont will need significant new federal funding to recover. “We’re putting a lot of our eggs in the Congressional basket,” he said.
Flood damage and recovery, by the numbers:
Vermont 2-1-1 has received 6000 reports of damaged homes and businesses – with one-third from Washington County.
The State of Vermont has removed 4000 tons of flood debris. That is on top of unknown amounts of locally-removed debris.
“Debris removal is a top priority and will be for weeks,” Public Safety Commissioner Jen Morrison said.
4500 homeowners and businesses have applied for help, resulting in $11. 6 million of FEMA aid approved, and 11.2 million disbursed.
Four highway sections are closed to traffic:
- Rte. 116 in Middlebury
- I-91 at the Hartford off ramp onto I-89
- Rte. 131 in Weathersfield
- Rte. 129 in Hancock
The Vermont Agency of Transportation reports 1102 damaged roadway sites and 806 impacted culverts. Repair work is ongoing.
Train service on the 11 mile stretch between Barre and Websterville is closed.
Bike path – More than half of the 93-mile Lamoille Valley Rail Trail is open, in particular the entire 30-plus mile stretch between Swanton to Cambridge Junction. The trail from Cambridge to Walden, however, is closed with major, multiple washouts. Some won’t be fixed until next year.
A reporter asked Scott to comment on a VPIRG campaign to sue Big Oil for climate change recovery and energy transition funding. That’s “something the Attorney General should look at and probably will look at,” Scott said.
But he’s focused on flood repair and transitioning to an all-electric energy system. And he’s not hopeful the suit, if successful, will produce funding anytime soon.