In the wake of a powerful storm that dumped as much as nine inches of rain on parts of Vermont, residents in towns and cities across the state are only beginning to grapple with the destruction caused by the flooding unleashed by the historic deluge.
Although the skies have cleared since Monday’s storm, rivers are spilling over their banks, dams are filling, and forecasters are warning of more rain in the coming days.
Here’s what to know about the flood:
Thousands of residents lost their homes or businesses due to the storm.
The storm first struck New York State on Sunday, with one death attributed to fast-moving floodwaters there. Within just four hours, more than seven inches of rain fell at West Point. Several train lines in the state, such as Metro-North’s Hudson and Harlem lines, were suspended Monday due to fallen trees, mud and rocks blocking the tracks.
The system then headed north into New England, causing severe flooding and forcing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes in Vermont.
At least two of Vermont’s rivers — the Winooski, which runs through Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, and the Lamoille — have exceeded levels they reached during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
The flooding closed major roads and state highways, and city officials in Montpelier issued an emergency order Tuesday temporarily closing the flooded downtown.
Governor Phil Scott of Vermont described the flooding as “historic and catastrophic” and said Tuesday that thousands of residents had lost their homes, businesses and more.
As of Tuesday, Vermont officials said no injuries or deaths had been reported, but they warned that the state was still in the “earliest stages of this disaster.” More than 100 rescues have already been made, officials said, as teams used boats and helicopters to pull people from flooded homes and cars.
There were concerns about dams and other infrastructure.
One of the biggest concerns was whether the Wrightsville Dam, just north of downtown Montpelier, would exceed its capacity.
William Fraser, Montpelier’s city manager, said Tuesday that the dam was nearly full and could potentially spill into the North Branch.
“This has never happened since the dam was built, so there is no precedent for potential damage,” he said.
By Tuesday afternoon, city officials said the water was only a foot below the dam’s relief spillway, but that the rate at which the water was rising had slowed.
“At this time, it is difficult to determine if there will be an activation of a spill,” the officials said in a statement. “Spill activation is how the structure is designed to work, and it doesn’t mean dam failure.”
The flooding and storm debris forced the closure of dozens of roads across the state, including Interstate 89, which was closed Monday night, stranding many motorists overnight.
The full extent of the damage is not yet known.
With some areas of Vermont still inaccessible by road and with rescues prioritizing damage assessment, officials said it would take time before they could provide a full accounting of the toll on homes, businesses, roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
Chief Eric W. Nordenson of the Montpelier Police Department said Tuesday that the city’s resources “were spread very thin” because of the calls for help.
In other cities, such as Londonderry, which was hit hard by the flood on Monday, the clean-up was already underway.
In New York, officials on Monday estimated that the damage would likely run into the tens of millions of dollars to repair.
“My friends, this is the new normal,” Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said Monday, referring to the impact of climate change on flooding. People should “be prepared for the worst,” she said, “because the worst keeps happening.”
There is more rain in the forecast.
According to the National Weather Service, Wednesday is forecast to be generally sunny across Vermont. However, showers and thunderstorms are possible on Thursday, along with a slight risk of excess rain – described as “a few more inches” – across much of Vermont, New Hampshire and eastern New York.
Governor Scott warned on Tuesday that, although the sun was shining, this episode was not over, as the rivers could still rise.
“This is nowhere near,” he said.