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Cleanup efforts underway as waters recede, revealing Vermont's damage

The National Weather Service predicts additional rain in Vermont for Thursday and Friday.
Cleanup efforts underway as waters recede, revealing Vermont's damage
Posted at 1:39 PM, Jul 12, 2023

Two days after torrential rains triggered catastrophic flash flooding across Vermont, city officials started cleanup efforts Wednesday.

Parts of the state saw two months’ worth of rain in just a matter of hours Monday, deploying swift rescue boats in the streets of Vermont's capital, Montpelier. But Gov. Phil Scott says this storm is far from over.

"I want to be clear: We are not out of the woods. This is nowhere near over, and at this phase, our primary focus continues to be on life and safety before we can shift to a recovery phase," said Scott.

A record-setting 5.28 inches of rain fell in the city on Monday, edging out the historic rain from Hurricane Irene in 2011.

The Winooski River’s waves reached their peak before subsiding, only to surge again with renewed vigor, pushing water into the heart of downtown and inundating the city.

Resident Kayla Chartier, trudging through knee-deep water, says the water smells of gasoline.

"I mean, it's bad. You can smell the fuel in the water as I was walking through. I started to think about how much we like the stores, like all of the stores are just completely destroyed," Chartier says.

To the south, the floodwaters devastated the small town of Ludlow.

As the water recedes, the extent of the damage is revealed as roads and bridges were washed out, and a thick layer of mud is now covering everything.

As for the waters in Montpelier, they are receding more slowly than expected.

Officials monitoring the reservoir north of town are afraid it might release more water into the capital. So far, it’s holding.

But "the devastation is far-reaching," the governor said.

So far, there have been more than 100 rescues by boat and helicopter, and many others have sheltered in place, waiting for the water to recede.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden approved an Emergency Declaration for Vermont and authorized federal disaster relief assistance.

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