The federal government will distribute emergency supplies across Vermont to people and communities still feeling the effects of Hurricane Irene, which is threatening to become the state's worst natural disaster since the historic 1927 flood.
Thirty trucks form the Federal Emergency Management Agency arrived at the Vermont National Guard's Camp Johnson early Tuesday. The trucks carried food, blankets and other necessary items.
The flooding has brought the death toll from Hurricane Irene to 46, as the heavy rains from what had been Hurricane Irene caused rivers to overflow, closing down hundreds of roads statewide, leaving thousands of homes and businesses without power, and sweeping away whole towns.
It's hard for us to know, frankly, how many are stranded because it's hard for us to get into the communities we need to get to. It really packed a punch. It is probably the toughest flooding that we've seen in the state of Vermont in our history, said Gov. Peter Shumlin. We really need more resources, but the president has been extraordinarily helpful.
Vermont Declared Disaster Area
On Monday, President Barack Obama declared Vermont a federal disaster. But by afternoon, dozens, if not hundreds, of people remained stranded with a shrinking supply of food and water after bridges collapsed and hundreds of roads remained under water, The New York Times reported Monday.
We prepared for the worst and we got the worst in central and southern Vermont, Shumlin said Monday after a day spent touring the state by helicopter. We have extraordinary infrastructure damage. We haven't seen flooding like this, certainly since the early part of the 1900s. The areas that got flooding are in really tough shape.
The bodies of three people were recovered from flood waters and a lake, and a fourth person was still missing Monday night.
Inspection and reconstruction of roads and bridges is underway, and many roads are expected to reopen this week, Sue Minter, Vermont's deputy secretary of transportation, said. But temporary or full bridge reconstruction could take several months or longer.
And while Vermont prepared for Irene by calling in the help of hundreds of trucks and workers from Ontario, Missouri, and Texas, but they have been unable to reach many downed poles and wires because of road outages.
Despite an army of people, there are just simply dozens of villages and hamlets that we can't get to, said Steve Costella, a spokesman for Central Vermont Public Service. It's probably going to turn out to be - if not the worst - one of the two or three worst storms in our h history in terms of damage.