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Flooding Displaces Upper Valley Residents

Valley News/Jennifer Hauck

Wild weather hit parts of southern Vermont as July began, especially in the Upper Valley. Some roads were impassable or washed out entirely.

In Lebanon, dozens of people were evacuated from a brand new affordable housing project. Rivermere, a 21-unit complex, had only been open for about a month when a brook overflowed on Tuesday night, destroying a road and severely damaging the building owned by Twin Pines Housing Trust.   About 40 residents had to be taken to a nearby hotel. Twin Pines Director Andrew Winter says it was traumatic.

“I had a woman in tears in her car with her children trying to get out, and I told her, 'You have to leave the car behind, and we have to walk out.' It’s devastating,” Winter said.

Twin Pines is now searching for transitional housing for its tenants in a tight rental market. Winter says the property damage could top half a million dollars, and he’s not sure what insurance will cover. The housing was not in a flood plain and did not carry flood insurance.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross shelter at Lebanon High School remained open for other Upper Valley residents who may need water, showers, something to eat and a place to stay.

Volunteer Alean Hunnewell says she has never seen flash flooding like this, even in her home state of Louisiana.

“The hardest downpour of rain I think I have ever seen, it was steady for an hour,” Hunnewell said.

The Red Cross says it could always use more volunteers. Twin Pines is accepting donations on behalf of the displaced tenants.

The Upper Valley is bracing for more flooding, because even a moderate rainfall could swell saturated streams and soils.

Other parts of southern Vermont are also repairing damage to roads and buildings, especially in towns surrounding Mount Ascutney. 

The Red Cross has closed the shelter in Lebanon, but will be providing meals for emergency workers on Wednesday night.

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
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