Gov. Scott, Federal Officials Tour Vermont Flood Damage | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


Gov. Scott, Federal Officials Tour Vermont Flood Damage


Published July 12, 2023 at 2:35 p.m.
Updated July 26, 2023 at 2:15 p.m.

Gov. Phil Scott and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell after touring flood damage - KEVIN MCCALLUM ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • Gov. Phil Scott and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell after touring flood damage
Gov. Phil Scott and federal officials on Wednesday began surveying Vermont communities devastated by floodwaters and warned that even as the waters recede, significant risks remained with additional rain in the forecast.

Before taking off on a helicopter tour of the state, Scott urged residents to continue working together to help one another and be vigilant, especially with the potential for more precipitation on Thursday and Friday.

“This may not be over, with rain in the forecast and nowhere for it to go. We could see waters rise again,” Scott said.

The state was in much better shape on Wednesday than it was on Tuesday, but significant risks remain, said Jennifer Morrison, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. She noted that rescues were still under way in Lamoille County.
Swift-water rescue teams rescued 32 additional people and their animals in the county overnight, including in the hard-hit town of Jeffersonville. The total number of rescues from the storm has now topped 200, she said. There have been no deaths reported.
Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison - KEVIN MCCALLUM ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison
Flood risks persist on the Winooski River in Essex, the Lamoille River in Jeffersonville, the Missisquoi River at East Berkshire, Otter Creek in Rutland and at the Lake Arrowhead Dam in Milton, she said.

Over the next 24 hours, however, all rivers in the state were expected to recede below flood stages, allowing people to return to damaged homes and businesses.

Morrison urged people to be extremely careful when doing so. Licensed experts should examine electrical systems before they're turned on again, she said. About 1,000 customers remained without power as utility crews worked to restore outages, she said.

She also urged people to stay out of floodwaters, which are often contaminated and can conceal dangerous conditions. In such disasters, many injuries and deaths occur after the initial danger appears to have passed, she said.

“Vermonters, keep your guard up and do not take chances,” she said.

Scott was joined on his aerial tour of the state by FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who said her goal was to document the storm damage so federal officials could respond properly.
  • Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • Gov. Phil Scott
“On behalf of the president and the entire federal family, our thoughts are with everyone across Vermont right now as they are experiencing the impacts of this truly historic and catastrophic flooding event,” Criswell said.

President Joe Biden's swift disaster declaration for Vermont would help speed the arrival of the federal assistance needed, she said.

“We will continue to send additional resources as we work with the governor and his team to understand what the needs are as we go into the recovery phase,” she said.

Joe Flynn, secretary of the Agency of Transportation, said 47 roads remained closed and seven partially closed, while 33 had reopened recently. 
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell - KEVIN MCCALLUM ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell
The state's entire federal delegation attended the press conference in Berlin and planned to tour flood damage.

U.S. Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) said many Vermonters undoubtedly recall the trauma of Tropical Storm Irene. As the recovery and rebuilding of homes, businesses and infrastructure gets under way, it's important for people to be kind to their neighbors, she said.

"On the day-to-day, what I'm asking Vermonters to do is be gentle with one another," she said. "This is a difficult time for so many." 

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