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Flooding Destroys Roads, Home In Underhill

State officials are adding up the total damage after heavy storms dumped rain on eastern Chittenden County last night, causing localized flooding.

Governor Peter Shumlin says the state is trying to determine if the damage in Jericho, Underhill, Essex and Cambridge exceeds a million dollars – that’s the threshold required to apply for federal disaster funding.

Andrew Fletcher and his wife left their house in Underhill Thursday night when the stream next near them began rising. Their home is at the bottom of a hill, where a dirt road meets Route 15.

When Fletcher returned Friday morning, his garage was completely leveled. Murky water reaches the top of the basement stairs, and the floor is covered with thick mud. Fletcher packed the family’s belongings into his car as talked about what they’ll do next.

“I want to walk away from it. I don’t want to see it again. I’ve got to find a home for my wife and I to live in before our baby’s born,” he said.

The Fletcher’s house was also damaged by spring flooding in 2011. He points to the stream that flows along the dirt road and under Route 15.

“It’s usually just a trickle, you get some heavy rainfalls and it can get rough, but I think the biggest bottle neck is this culvert right here, it’s so narrow, so low and it just clogs up and then you end up with this,” Fletcher said.

As an excavator works to fix the road, Transportation Secretary Brian Searles takes in the scene. He says after all of the flooding in the last two years, his agency is assessing culverts statewide.

“We are experiencing rainfall that is higher than normal, so our system to deal with storm water is measured against norms which may in fact not be in play anymore, so we’re doing a statewide assessment,” Searles said.

Governor Peter Shumlin says the flooding is devastating, and there’s no simple solution.

“We are getting rainstorms that are not characteristic of Vermont’s past, we get huge amounts of rain deluged on us in short periods of time and it’s very localized and it’s a huge challenge for us,” he said.

State crews will be working with town crews to make repairs and re-open roads, but it may be weeks before final repairs are made.

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
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