Gorham Covered Bridge in Proctor is surrounded by flood water. The historic bridge was one of the luck ones to survive Hurricane Irene’s wrath.
Hurricane Irene, downgraded to a tropical storm by the time its outer fringes reached Vermont in the early morning hours of Aug. 28, certainly lived up to all the Weather Channel hype.
The giant storm delivered high winds—some gusts up to 65 miles per hour—and heavy rains—in some places up to 8 inches and more—to the Green Mountain State. Especially hard hit were the southern and northcentral portions of the state where narrow mountain valleys funneled Irene’s torrential rainfall over already heavily saturated ground.
Downed trees, power poles and mudslides created a transportation nightmare especially in the Montpelier, Bennington and Brattleboro areas.
The Rutland area also experiencing flooding.
An unidentified woman died when she was swept away in the rising Deerfield River after watching the spectacle with her boyfriend.
FEMA moved its emergency management center out of downtown Montpelier Aug. 28 as the Winooski River was on the rise. Sections of downtown Montpelier are now underwater.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said Vermont was especially hard hit by the tropical storm due to the state’s rugged terrain.
“The remnants of Hurricane Irene have moved out of Vermont, but not before washing utility poles and roads away,” he said.
Shumlin urged non-essential government employees to stay at home Aug. 29.
More than 40,000 CVPS customers lost power Aug. 28 and by Aug 29, 27,600 were still without power, many may be without power for days, according to CVPS spokeswoman Christine Rivers.
“Hurricane Irene’s heavy rains and winds have washed out roads, washed away utility poles and whole trees, brought down hundreds of lines and knocked out power to more than 40,000 CVPS customers across the state today. More than 27,600 CVPS customers remain without power at this time,” Rivers said.
“Flooding and washed out roads have severely affected our progress in restoring power. Our crews cannot get to many areas in central and southern Vermont because the roads are simply gone,” said CVPS Senior Vice President of Engineering, Operations and Customer Service Joe Kraus. “At this point, restoration efforts are largely dependent on improving road access. Many customers, especially those who know they are in a severely flooded areas, should plan to be without power for days.”
“We have tremendous resources at our disposal thanks to crews from as far away as Texas, but we won’t be able to make repairs until roads are reopened,” said Rivers. “The winds may also pick up tonight, and with the ground so saturated, even moderate winds are going to continue to cause more outages.”
Rutland County has numerous flooded roads. The Otter Creek has flooded in several locales in both Rutland and Addison counties along with water-covered roads.