Fast-rising rivers may lead to second emergency declaration

Mad River rose five feet after one inch of rainfall last night

Langdon Street, Montpelier in early July 2023 flooding. Trevor Hughes photo on City of Montpelier Facebook page

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.

Categories: Weather

16 replies »

  1. VPIRG? Bah ! One of their minions knocked at my door last week. I told her what I think of their “mission”and pointed out the shortest route to her next mark. Byeee !

  2. Klar is right in his latest piece: we need to focus on preventing the next flood and preparing for the aftermath of the inevitable, not argue over whose “fault” it is. The randomness of ever-shifting weather/climate has always and WILL always be with us, and being prepared is simply ensuring our survival.

    And before anyone says anything, the fact that we have weather at all indicates that the climate never stands still. Just ask the mammoth frozen solid in a glacier.

      • George Carlin and Bill Hicks – legends and the proverbial thorns in the sides of the establisment. Love and miss them both!

  3. Des anyone think we could get VIPRG to use some of our money to run this as part of their propaganda PR? Sure addresses some of that hubris we have to listen to.

  4. With all the institutionalized depravity (abortion, drugs, prostitution) condoned by the supermajority in the Statehouse, it makes you wonder if there really is a God exercising his wrath on Montpelier with all the flooding.

    • Sol, it is hard to know about the effect of institutional and personal sins on weather. Why would the Bible Belt get slammed with tornadoes and hurricanes is an example. I do think that the less I sin and the more I pray to God, the better my life goes. If more of us did that, what would happen regards the weather? There is no question that our state has never been so depraved and more pagan the latter according to Pew research. Exorcists have said with such widespread embrace of abortion, immoral lifestyles, and viewing of pornography, we invite demonic oppression. In the book of Job, God says he listens to the prayers of the righteous. Would cleaning up our act and praying to God for more stable weather bring results? It definitely would open us to God’s advice on how to better prepare for the future.

  5. Phil just loves that power of “emergency declaration”! Once he got away with the first one, he now weilds it like a dagger into the heart of any freedom we are afforded under the US Constitution. Of course, it’s not his decision to inflict it, it is by his Master’s instructions. The chatter started a couple months ago of a new lockdown coming, new viruses being released, weather events…whatever fear of near death can be struck into the sheep’s heads. All electric systems, suing energy companies, water, water everywhere and not a drop that isn’t tainted to drink…woe onto them as their plans are known and will be defeated.

  6. Aren’t we glad glad glad that our ancestors were smarter than God and lined their pockets with the profits off the beaver’s backs, now?
    Tore down the trees and put in a parking lot… sing it Joni!
    We sooo smaht… naught.

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