Intense storms that flooded the northeast it turned streets into rivers, forced evacuations and prompted officials in Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, to shut down the downtown area.
“Make no mistake, the devastation and flooding we’re experiencing in Vermont is historic and catastrophic,” Gov. Phil Scott told reporters Tuesday.
Flooding in some areas “exceeded levels seen during Tropical Storm Irene,” the governor said. Irene hit the United States like a hurricane in August 2011 and left entire communities submerged, killing more than 40 people in several eastern states.
The current flooding has damaged thousands of homes and businesses, Scott added.
In downtown Montpelier, authorities issued a travel ban that lasted until Tuesday afternoon. A boil water advisory remains in effect for the city, after officials warned “extreme flooding” could contaminate the drinking water supply.
The city and surrounding communities saw “record flooding” in two days, Montpelier officials said said Tuesday afternoon. The downtown area remains flooded and is not safe for public travel, they added.
The city was hit with a record 5.28 inches of rainfall on Monday, the National Weather Service in Burlington said. That’s more than any other day on record, including when Irene dropped 5.27 inches of rain on the state capital on August 28, 2011.
“Irene had about 12 hours of rain and then it was over,” the governor said. “This is different. We have had about 48 hours of steady rain,” he said, adding that more rain is expected in the coming days.
Vermont remains under a state of emergency, with water in downtown Montpelier standing knee-high on Tuesday, trapping residents in their homes and closing roads and businesses. Flooding forced evacuations and more than 100 rescues across the state, Urban Search and Rescue Manager Mike Cannon told CNN.
“In many areas, water conditions remain too dangerous for boat rescue,” state Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison said Tuesday.
“There are life-threatening isolates that we are trying to identify and save,” Morrison added.
President Joe Biden spoke with Scott and other officials about the flooding, the White House said Tuesday, adding that he was coordinating with state and local officials and monitoring the impact of the flooding.
New Hampshire will send rapid response crews and Black Hawk helicopters to help with the Vermont flood response, Gov. Chris Sununu said. Crews from Connecticut, Massachusetts and North Carolina are currently in Vermont to assist, and more are on the way, the Vermont Department of Public Safety said.
In Montpelier, the police department relocated its dispatch, police and fire operations due to heavy flooding in the basement of City Hall and the fire and police departments, Police Chief Eric Nordenson said Tuesday.
Authorities were also monitoring the Wrightsville Dam in Montpelier late Tuesday after water levels neared the dam’s spillway earlier in the day.
In the an update from 8:30 p.m., Montpelier officials said the dam’s water level is starting to drop and is not expected to top the spillway. On Wednesday, crews will begin clearing mud and debris from city roads, begin inspections of buildings in the downtown area and begin cleanup efforts, officials said.
Flood warnings that affected more than 2 million people in parts of New England and Oklahoma expired Tuesday, but flood warnings remain in both regions.
The bodies of two children were recovered from Lake Overholser, a reservoir in Oklahoma City, after authorities said they were swept away Monday night by strong currents following heavy rains in the city over the weekend.
The children, who authorities said were 10 and 11 years old, were in a group of four fishing in the area when they went into the water.
“The strong currents pulled two boys underwater while the other two made it to safety on a concrete ledge,” Oklahoma City Fire Department Capt. John Chenoweth said.
As the rain falls in Vermont, Scott cautioned against a false sense of complacency. “The water has to go somewhere, the reservoirs are filling up and we have to establish the next phase, the next wave,” he said.
Betsy Hart called 911 when the flood suddenly began to rise rapidly in the basement of her Chester property in Windsor County.
“The water was rising quickly after being pretty mild most of the morning,” Hart told CNN’s Miguel Marquez. “Suddenly, he was in the house.”
Hart said he has never experienced flooding like what he saw Monday. “It was too close for comfort,” she said.
“With Hurricane Irene, the water was rushing like that, but it never really got into the house,” she said, standing on a road near her home as water flowed nearby.
Numerous rivers in Vermont rose amid the rains, with some swelling higher than the levels reached during Hurricane Irene. The Winooski River in Montpelier rose nearly 14 feet Monday and passed major flood stage as water continued to rise, threatening more flooding.
Ball Mountain Dam and Townshend Dam in southwestern Vermont were expected to overflow their spillways,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned Monday evening. Warning of “severe flooding”, the agency urged residents to get inside threatened lowlands nearby communities in Vermont and New Hampshire to evacuate.
Seven-day rainfall totals across much of the Northeast were already 300 percent to 500 percent of normal levels, the Weather Forecast Center said Monday.
Widespread rain of 2 to 4 inches fell in the Northeast from eastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey into Vermont and New Hampshire. Isolated rainfall totals of more than 6 inches were observed in several states.
In New York, a 35-year-old woman died after being swept away by floodwaters while trying to evacuate her home in Orange County on Sunday. The flooding caused “easily tens of millions of dollars in damage,” County Executive Steve Neuhaus said Monday.
Some areas of New York were hit with more than 8 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
Upstate, a state of emergency has been declared for the city of Long Lake after severe flooding destroyed roads and bridges, downed power lines and forced some residents to evacuate, the Long Lake city supervisor said. , Clay Arsenault. a declaration. A state of emergency is in effect for Hamilton County by Wednesday morning.
Long Lake officials he also said non-essential travel into the city is not allowed at this time.
In Vermont, state Rep. Kelly Pajala said she woke up Monday morning to already flooded water on the front step of her Londonderry apartment. She and her son packed up their two cats and evacuated to higher ground.
Floodwaters could be seen gushing between homes in Chester, where some structures were visibly damaged and lorries were wheel-deep.
Don Hancock, dripping in water from head to toe, told CNN he had only lived in his home for less than a year and watched the floodwaters enter the basement and garage of his new home.
“I was a firefighter in New York. I’ve been there many times to help people, but I’ve never experienced this side of it,” Hancock said. “Once the water recedes, we go day by day, clean it up and move on. What can we do?”