Officials warn ‘this isn’t over’ as Vermonters brace for more rain
As much of the state begins cleaning up from this week’s historic flooding, state officials urge Vermonters to stay alert and prepare for another bout of heavy rains and thunderstorms.
Gov. Phil Scott advised Vermonters at a press conference Thursday morning to stay off the roads from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday as areas already saturated with rain will be prone to flash flooding.
“Vermonters need to pay attention to the weather reporting today and plan ahead,” Scott said. “If you need to do something today, do it early. Don't wait until tonight. Flash flooding can happen quickly and you don't know when it could hit.”
The National Weather Service issued a flood watch starting at 2 p.m. today, especially urging those in central and northern Vermont to take precautions.
Scott also informed Vermonters about another rain storm on Sunday and encouraged people to continue to prepare.
“Folks will want to think this is over as soon as the weather breaks on Saturday, but it's critical that Vermonters understand that we need to remain vigilant,” he said.
Also at the press conference was Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison. She echoed Scott’s message of preparation and safety.
“Today's threat is predictable. Please do not put yourself or your family at unnecessary risk, and please do not put our first responder family at risk,” said Morrison.
Up to two inches of rain are expected through Thursday night.
Agency of Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn informed listeners that VTrans has been working around the clock the past two days to repair road damages sustained in the previous rain, removing current obstructions and armoring slide areas and banks.
He says this preparation will hopefully prevent further damage to roads tonight and Sunday.
Scott also announced that he submitted a request to President Joe Biden for a major disaster relief declaration. This request will be reviewed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (who met with Scott and accessed damage in Vermont on Wednesday) and then sent to Biden for his approval.
If approved, this declaration would bring in more federal dollars for recovery. The previous disaster relief signed by Biden gave federal money for emergency response. Scott could not give a specific amount of funds Vermont would receive.
Other key takeaways from the press conference include:
- “Predictable is preventable”: Morrison urged Vermonters to check out the state website to learn more about planning head, sign up for Vermont Alert, and turn around if you encounter swollen waterways.
- Dams will be closely monitored: Agency of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Maggie Gendron said the Waterbury, Wrightsville, and East Barre dams will be closely watched in this next rain storm. Based on the current forecast, she says it is “unlikely that we will have water flow over the spillway at Wrightsville."
- Shelters are still open and on standby as more rain approaches: Morrison listed six shelters currently operating throughout the state, the most notable being Barre with 25 guests and Smugglers Notch with 59 guests.
- Do not go into stormwater: Both Scott and Morrison reminded Vermonters that swimming or wading into stormwater is unhealthy and dangerous. Stormwater contains sewage, gas, oil, and chemicals. “It’s not healthy,” said Morrison.
- There are no current rescue missions: That said, Morrison noted teams are positioned ahead of Thursday’s weather and the National Guard is on standby.
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Flooding recovery assistance and other key resources
- To apply for federal financial assistance, visit disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
- Is your community under a boil-water notice? Find a statewide list here.
- For state road closure information, visit newengland511.org or @511VT on Twitter. To check the status of your town's local roads, consult your town website or social media.
- School activities and child care program closures are collected here.
- Find the latest forecasts and water levels for specific rivers from the National Weather Service.
- Are you returning to flooded property? Get tips on what to expect and how to stay safe while cleaning your home or car and how to deal with trash and debris.
- Here are tips for avoiding scams that can crop up after a disaster.
- Flood safety tips have been translated into 16 languages here.
- The Vermont Professionals of Color Network is connecting BIPOC Vermonters with recovery assistance.
- Business owners can find tips and resources from Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.
- To find more resources, visit vermont.gov/flood, vermont211.org or call Vermont 2-1-1.
- You can also report flood damage to 2-1-1 to help the state gather data, according to Vermont Emergency Management. (If you are a homeowner, you should also contact your insurance company.)
- The Vermont Agency of Agriculture has provided a resource page for farmers.
- Find the latest guidance about how to help with recovery.