Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane Irene - Record Flooding in Vermont

Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a Tropical Storm before it arrived in Vermont.  However, the downgrade did not prevent the storm from walloping some areas with more rain in one day than for the months of July and August combined.  The mountainous topography funneled 4-9" of precipitation directly down-slope and into small communities that couldn't have been ready for what was coming, no matter the amount of preparation.  In Vermont, four deaths are being blamed on the storm and the cost of rebuilding is estimated to be in excess of $100 million.

The Brewster River @ Edwards Rd (mid-storm), Jeffersonville, VT

In general, Southern Vermont was hit hardest.  In Northern Vermont, Waterbury experienced a flash flood on Monday morning following the storm.  I am currently employed by the State of Vermont in the Water Quality Division.  All offices were closed on Monday due to flooding.  I figured I'd head in on Tuesday to see the damage.  I was blown away by what I saw.

A state vehicle with grass on the antenna was moved 3' by the Winooski River.

Eighteen-wheeler tipped by the Winooski River.

The LaRosa Environmental Laboratory was inundated with 4' of water, just enough to cover the tops of our desks and destroy computers, microscopes and countless pages of important paper documents.

One important document Irene left behind.

The back entrance to the lab, note the high water mark on the wall by the loading dock.

Headed into the lab; lots of muck everywhere.

Water came into the building at approximately 6am.  It had receded by 7:30am.

Most (not all) of the microscopes had been above the water level.

The benches where Aaron and I do much of our work.  Everything has been coated with a fine layer of sediment.

The water moved desks, tipped refrigerators, soaked computers and created a disaster area.

There's my desk.

Once we had some time to assess the damage and document the losses; it was time for clean-up to begin.

Fortunately, some of our gear is designed for use in water, this makes cleaning it a bit easier.

Hard not to be covered in the mud that is everywhere.

The Winooski River at Salmon Hole from the bridge in Winooski on Monday.

Photograph from same location one day later.
The outpouring of support has been tremendous.  Ben & Jerry's dished out free ice cream,  Green Mountain Club workers assisted residents of Waterbury, and Green Mountain Coffee provided free coffees to keep people motivated.  Vermont will rebuild as a community and put this devastating flood in the past.

How you can help:

*Vermont Flooding 2011 on Facebook.

*VT Flood Relief Fund

*Preservation Trust of Vermont

*The Red Cross

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW, you have captured everything that anyone was feeling that day. Made my mouth drop. Seems like it was just yesterday. We have sooo many reminders of Irene in Bennington. Irene will not be forgotten for a long time. Barb