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Williamstown Floods, FEMA Arrives

A car is submerged in flooded waters with people looking on in the background
Toby Talbot
Associated Press File

As federal officials visit Vermont to take stock of last week’s flooding more homes have been inundated by localized heavy rains.

Williamstown is the latest addition to the growing list of Vermont towns hit by flash flooding. 

Late Monday night heavy rains forced the Jail Branch Brook over its banks in the center of the village.

Town Manager Jackie Higgins says the damage to roads and property is more extensive than the 2011 floods that hit Williamstown.

“The mass amount of water that came down went over the bridge on Route 14 and flooded homes and businesses basements, probably a total of 15 to 20 residences and four businesses,” Higgins says.

At this point the water has receded, but much cleanup remains. Higgins says one family has been displaced by the flooding and it’s possible their home is a total loss.

“We had over waist high water went through their mobile home and pretty much ruined the wiring underneath,” she says.

One Williamstown road remains closed, with a  600-700 foot section washed away.  

The damage was examined by FEMA representatives who were in Vermont to assess the flood damage that’s taken place since late June to determine if it qualifies for federal assistance.

Among the stops they made was the central Vermont town of Roxbury, one of the hardest hit in the recent flooding. 

Roxbury road foreman Lauren Bent says FEMA indicated that there was enough damage in Roxbury alone to qualify the county for federal disaster assistance.

“They needed, $206,000 or $209,000 in the county to even consider the county as a disaster area to be qualified for any FEMA assistance and they got it all right here in Roxbury,” says Bent.

FEMA representatives visited sites in Chittenden, Washington and Windsor counties.  A

FEMA team was also in Lebanon, New Hampshire surveying damage from flooding that hit that community last week.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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