Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said on Monday that Hurricane Irene has produced the worst flooding in nearly a century, with hundreds of roads closed and at least three iconic covered bridges torn away by floodwaters.
Heavy rain deluged southern and central Vermont on Sunday, swelling rivers and producing flash floods that erased roads and in some cases cut off inundated communities. While the full extent of the damage was not clear on Monday morning, there was no doubt that Vermont was hit hard.
We prepared for the worst and we got the worst in central and southern Vermont, Shumlin said Monday. We have extraordinary infrastructure damage.
One of the Worst Weather Disasters in Vermont History
National Weather Hydrologist Greg Hanson called Irene's impact one of the top weather-related disasters in Vermont's history, citing reports of houses and cars being washed away. A harrowing video posted online showed the Bartonsville bridge, a historic bridge in Rockingham, being claimed by the storm.
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Officials had been weighing the possibility of flooding Montpelier, the state capitol, in order to relieve strain on the Marshfield Dam but ultimately decided against it.
Water levels have stabilized, Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said. If conditions continue like this we'll be fine, but we're continuing to monitor to see if anything changes.
Shumlin said he had activated the Vermont National Guard to try and access the ski resort town of Wilmington, which had been isolated by washouts. National Guard troops had crossed state lines and were attempting to travel north into the town from Massachusetts, Shumlin said.
As of 5:30 a.m. EDT Monday, more than 50,000 homes and business in Vermont had no electricity, according to the Burlington Free Press.