Vermont Flooding
Vermont Monday continued to fight back from what is rapidly becoming the state's worst natural disaster since the historic 1927 flood. Dozens if not hundreds of people remain stranded, and provisions for food and water are dwindling, and swollen rivers continued to be a threat. REUTERS

Vermont Monday continued to fight back from what is rapidly becoming the state's worst natural disaster since the historic 1927 flood.

At least three people have died in the storm, one man is missing, hundreds of roads statewide are closed, and thousands of homes and businesses suffered power outages and serious damage from flooding associated with Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, reported Monday.

Three people are confirmed dead in Vermont in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, and a fourth person is missing, state officials said at a news conference in Montpelier late this afternoon.

The deaths occurred in Wilmington, Rutland and Ludlow. Another person, the son of the Rutland victim, is missing and feared dead, according to state officials.

Utter Devastation from Flood Waters

It is both devastating and unbelievable, Gov. Peter Shumlin said after a day spent touring the state by helicopter. He noted that every aspect of small-town life -- homes, businesses, churches -- has been affected. Lots of tragedy, Shumlin said.

Dozens, if not hundreds of people remained stranded with dwindling provisions of food and water after bridges collapsed and hundreds of roads remained under water, The New York Times reported Monday. Swollen rivers continued to be a threat. And two dozen emergency shelters were chock-full of hundreds of people displaced from flooded homes, Shumlin said.

The state government suffered losses as well.

The Waterbury complex was devastated, Shumlin said, referring to a large office complex for state employees. It is not usable for the next several weeks.

State workers whose offices are in Waterbury are to stay at home until they are told where they should report, Shumlin added.

Also, at least two city workers who were tending a municipal water system in the central part of the state are missing and feared dead. As of Monday afternoon, Irene had caused at least 32 deaths in 10 states, according to The Associated Press.

Leahy Tours State: Shocking

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., joined Shumlin on the statewide tour.

I've not seen anything that has shocked me so much, said Leahy, a public official since the 1960s.

Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said 35 bridges in Vermont are closed because of damage. Bridge inspectors are coming to Vermont from out of state, including from Massachusetts and the federal government, to check the condition of the state's bridges.

Vermont officials say it would not have helped to issue more extensive evacuation orders before the arrival of Tropical Storm Irene because it was impossible to tell where flooding would be at its worst, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Both Gov. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Patrick Leahy say there are several instances around the state where one town was unscathed, while another in the same river valley was devastated.

The men were responding to criticism voiced by some in the national media that Vermont was not aggressive enough about ordering evacuations.

Political/Public Policy Analysis: State national guard from other states outside New England and New York may have to help Vermont, because its bordering states have mobilized their state national guard troops to deal with their own Irene-related problems.

More than likely, federal relief workers -- FEMA-based, contract, volunteer -- and possibly U.S. Armed Forces, may have to be deployed to help Vermont during its moment of urgent need, and there is no time to waste.