Vt governor declares State of Emergency - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt governor declares State of Emergency

Waterbury, Vermont -- August 27, 2011

On Saturday afternoon, Governor Peter Shumlin declared a State of Emergency for Vermont and called out the National Guard in anticipation of Hurricane Irene. Officials encouraged Vermonters to be smart and to do their part to prepare.

"We are all proceeding as if life hadn't changed. And we're thankful that it hasn't," Shumlin said. "But there's always the danger that we might think that it won't. And I'm here to ask Vermonters to realize that in all likelihood it will change rapidly tomorrow, and therefore, now is the time to plan."

And they say if you think will be like the Nor'easters the region sees a few times a year -- think again. While in the winter the trees are bare, now, the leaves on the trees create a sail effect that makes Hurricane Irene different.

"We can't relate this to a Nor'easter and say, well, we weather the Nor'easters, we're okay," said Public Safety Commissioner Kevin Flynn. "We need to look at this as something that's distinguished from that."

Vermont's major utilities have also brought in extra help. Both Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service have brought in crews from around the nation to respond to the damage and expected power outages.

"We have crews coming in from as far away as Missouri, Illinois, Texas, to assist us with the preparation and restoration efforts that we're anticipating here," CVPS CEO Larry Reilly said.

CVPS says it will have an extra 303 people on staff and 80 tree crews in place on Monday instead of the normal 40 to assist with damage repair. GMP has brought in an additional 200 staffers from out-of-state to respond.

FEMA already has crews in the state from the spring flooding, which means they do not have to try to bring people in during the storm. They say they will put their resources into the current effort.

"We are ready for the worst of this and we are going to be on the scene before, during, and long after Irene arrives," said FEMA federal coordinating officer Craig Gilbert.

People living near rivers have not been told to evacuate, but all the extra water could create a big problem.

"Flooding is going to be our biggest issue. It's not unreasonable to expect that all major Vermont rivers, based on these forecasts, will possibly flood," Flynn said.

The state's emergency operations center will open Sunday at 7 a.m. in Waterbury. Officials say it will stay open for the duration of the storm response.

Cat Viglienzoni -- WCAX News

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