Vermont Could Be Staring Down a Decade-Long Recovery

Flooding 'devastation is far reaching' in the state
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2023 6:48 AM CDT
In Vermont, 'Far Reaching' Devastation
This image made from drone footage provided by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets shows flooding in Montpelier, Vt., Tuesday, July 11, 2023.   (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets via AP)

Vermont residents got their first good look at the devastation caused by what's purported to be the worst flooding in the state in nearly a century on Wednesday as Mother Nature offered a brief break in rain. Venturing outside of drenched homes, in some cases for the first time in days, some 1,300 residents in the northern town of Johnson learned their waste water treatment plant flooded and is now out of commission. "To get this operational again, I'm talking six months," the facility's chief operator tells the Boston Globe. More than 100 miles south in Ludlow, residents found front loaders and backhoes pushing through "a waist-deep debris field" at a shopping center.

It will be weeks before the only major grocery store within 15 miles can reopen in the town where flood waters had carried a trailer home the length of a football field, per the Globe. A mile outside of town, a hot tub was found wedged under a bridge. President Biden declared a state of emergency in Vermont on Tuesday after the state received up to 9 inches of rain, or two months' worth, in just two days. Sen. Bernie Sanders said the flooding was the worst natural disaster to hit the state since 1927, when flooding killed around 100 people. No deaths have been reported but "thousands of Vermonters have lost homes, businesses, and more," Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday. "The devastation is far reaching."

Even with teams from other states arriving to help with the cleanup, "this is going to be a years-, if not a decade-long recovery for the state," Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison said Wednesday, per CNN. One Ludlow resident, who lost two restaurants he co-owns, said residents and business owners fear they won't have the money to rebuild, per the Globe. "The insurance adjusters are overwhelmed," he said. And not all home owners and businesses have flood insurance. Worse yet, the devastation "may not be over," Scott said. "With rain in the forecast—and nowhere for it to go—we could see waters rise again." As CNN reports, some "devastated swaths" of Vermont were under new flood watches Thursday. (More Vermont stories.)

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