HomeTop StoriesRescue workers brace for more rain as relentless storms engulf northeastern Vermont

Rescue workers brace for more rain as relentless storms engulf northeastern Vermont

ANDOVER, Vt. (AP) — Rapid water rescue teams and local officials across Vermont braced for more precipitation and flooding Tuesday after persistent heavy rains drenched the state and other parts of the Northeast, unleashing rushing water that washed away roads, trapped residents in their homes and disrupted travel .

One person was killed in New York when she tried to leave her flooded home.

There are no reports of injuries or deaths from the flooding in Vermont, according to emergency services. But dozens of roads were closed, including many along the ridge of the Green Mountains. And the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings and advisories for much of the state, from the Massachusetts line north to the Canadian border.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said late Monday they expected two dams to release water overnight, causing “severe flooding” downstream likely to affect several cities.

According to Vermont Urban Search and Rescue’s Mike Cannon, rescue crews from North Carolina, Michigan and Connecticut were among those helping Monday to reach Vermont towns that had been inaccessible since torrential rains began to engulf the state.

Rapid water rescue teams in Vermont have conducted more than 50 rescues, mostly in the southern and central parts of the state, Vermont Emergency Management said Monday night.

“We haven’t seen any rainfall since Irene,” said Vermont Governor Phil, referring to Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. That storm killed six people in the state, washed homes off their foundations, and damaged or destroyed more than 200 bridges and 500 buildings. miles (805 kilometers) of highway.

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What’s different is that Irene lasted about 24 hours, Scott said.

“This is ongoing. We get the same amount of rain, if not more. It takes days. That’s my concern. It’s not just the initial damage. It’s the wave, the second wave and the third wave,” he said.

Flooding hit Vermont’s capital city, with Montpelier Town Manager Bill Fraser estimating Monday night that knee-high waters had reached much of downtown and were expected to rise several more feet during the night.

Some people went canoeing to Cavendish Baptist Church in Vermont, which had been turned into a shelter, while volunteers baked cookies for firefighters working on rescues.

“People are doing well. It’s just stressful,” said shelter volunteer Amanda Gross.

Vermont representative Kelly Pajala said she and half a dozen others were evacuated early Monday morning from a four-unit apartment building on the West River in Londonderry.

“The river was right outside our door,” Pajala said. “We threw some dry clothes and our cats in the car and drove to higher ground.”

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The slow-moving storm reached New England after hitting parts of New York and Connecticut on Sunday. Rainfall in certain parts of Vermont exceeded 8 inches by late Monday, and the National Weather Service in Burlington said more rain was forecast for Tuesday.

One of the hardest hit places was New York’s Hudson Valley, where a woman identified by police as Pamela Nugent, 43, died trying to escape her flooded home in the hamlet of Fort Montgomery.

The flash floods loosened boulders that entered the woman’s home and damaged part of the wall, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus told The Associated Press. Two other people escaped.

“She was trying to get through (the flood) with her dog,” Neuhaus said, “and she was overwhelmed by tidal wave-type waves.”

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was pummeled by more than 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) of rain that caused debris to slid onto some roads and wash away others.

Officials say the storm has already caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.

“Nine inches of rain in this community,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said at a briefing on a muddy street in Highland Falls. “They call this a ‘1,000 year event’.”

As of Monday night, several washed-out streets in Highland Falls remained impassable, police chief Frank Basile said, leaving some residents trapped in their homes. The village police station itself was full of mud and leaves after being flooded with about 13 inches of water, Basile said.

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Atmospheric scientists say devastating floods are caused by storms forming in a warmer atmosphere, making extreme rainfall a reality. The additional warming that scientists predict will only make things worse.

The storm also interrupted travel. According to the Flightaware website, there were hundreds of canceled flights at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports and more than 200 canceled at Boston’s Logan Airport. Amtrak has temporarily suspended service between Albany and New York.

Troy Caruso, owner of a golf course, five restaurants and a motel in Ludlow, Vermont, said he checked for damage to his property and in the town of about 800 residents. A supermarket and shopping center were “wiped out,” he said, as well as a steakhouse and possibly a burger joint that he owned.

“It’s flooded beyond belief,” Caruso said of the city, noting that the 10th hole of his golf course was flooded.

“We just finished clearing these properties, planted flowers, the whole nine yards,” he said. “We’ll have to start all over again.”


Minchillo reported from Highland Falls, New York. Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire; Michael Hill in Albany, New York; and Mark Pratt and Steve LeBlanc in Boston contributed.

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