Recovery operations begin in Vermont after catastrophic flooding leads to widespread destruction

Rivers and streams have receded and a local dam is no longer at risk of sending torrents of water downstream, but concerns are growing that more flooding can occur late this week as the region braces for more rain.

MONTPELIER, Vt. Recovery operations are underway across Vermont after catastrophic flooding that hasn’t been seen since 1927 submerged cities and towns under several feet of water on Tuesday. 

And while rivers and streams have receded and a local dam is no longer at risk of sending torrents of water downstream, concerns are growing that more flooding can occur late this week as the region braces for more rain.

Torrential rain shifted into New England on Monday after deadly flooding was reported in New York on Sunday. And while flooding was reported in places like Connecticut and Massachusetts, nearly the entire state of Vermont was under a Flash Flood Warning on Monday, in addition to a Flash Flood Emergency that was in effect across a large portion of the state.


Rescue and recovery operations underway in Vermont

Vermont's capital, Montpelier, was submerged under feet of water when the Winooski River rapidly rose and crested at 21.35 feet on Tuesday. Apocalyptic drone video shot above Montpelier showed the water flowing through city streets and creeping into homes and businesses. So much water was flowing downtown that only the tops of vehicles were spotted peeking above the surface of the water.

Montpelier city officials said a parking ban is in effect for Main Street and State Street to allow for Department of Public Works (DPW) crews to begin clearing all the mud and debris from roadways now that the water levels have fallen. Officials warned residents that any vehicles left on the roads would be ticketed and towed.

Once the mud and debris have been removed, DPW crews will be made available to help businesses clear trash from flooded areas. In addition, the city's building inspector and sustainability facilities coordinator will be out on Wednesday performing initial inspections in the downtown Montpelier area. The Emergency Operations Center will also begin assembling volunteers to help with the cleanup efforts.

Several cities and towns have also issued boil water notices.

At a news conference on Wednesday, officials said Lamoille County in north-central Vermont appeared to be the most affected by the flooding. Thirty-two people and several animals needed to be rescued overnight, and water rescues continued in the county on Wednesday.


Officials say swift water rescue teams from Vermont and assisting states have now carried out more than 200 rescues and over 100 evacuations statewide since Sunday, and first responders are still combing the area looking for anyone who may have been trapped after the catastrophic flooding washed away roads and other escape routes.

So far, there have been no reports of deaths in Vermont as a result of the flooding.


Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell is expected to travel to Vermont on Wednesday to meet with state and local officials regarding the ongoing response efforts following the flooding. On Tuesday, the federal agency announced that federal disaster assistance was made available to the state to supplement state and local response efforts.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott held a news conference with other state and local leaders to provide updates on the ongoing situation and described it as "historic" and "catastrophic."

Scott announced during the news conferences that while overseas, President Joe Biden approved the state’s emergency declaration request, which would now help mobilize federal resources to support the response and recovery efforts for the ongoing disaster. While the rain has now exited Vermont, more rain late this week could lead to more flooding as the state tries to continue with recovery efforts.

"Even though the sun may shine today and tomorrow, we expect more rain later this week, which will have nowhere to go in the oversaturated ground," Scott said. "So 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 into a recovery phase."


More rain on the way

The forecast rain totals over the next seven days in the Northeast and New England.
(FOX Weather)


More rain is on the way across the Northeast and New England starting on Thursday, with the highest totals being forecast across eastern New York and most of New England, including waterlogged Vermont.

Many of those areas could see an additional 2 to 3 inches of rain over the next seven days. However, an additional 3 to 5 inches of rain could fall across portions of New England, just to the east of where the catastrophic flooding occurred in Vermont.

The flash flood threat in the Northeast and New England on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
(FOX Weather)


This again will raise concerns for flash flooding across the region. Flash flooding is possible across the Northeast and New England, but the highest risk will be across New York's Hudson Valley and points north, as well as across the state of Vermont and portions of northwestern New Hampshire. The flash flood threat then shifts to the east on Friday, with places like New Hampshire, southern Maine and Massachusetts seeing the highest risk.

The flash flood risk will begin to lower by the time we get into Saturday.