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Ice jams cause isolated flooding - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Ice jams cause isolated flooding

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Photo by Monique Tibbetts Photo by Monique Tibbetts
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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Residents looked on as ice on the Winooski River stood at a standstill Sunday morning.

"These type of jams can cause rising water that can actually affect public safety within a matter of minutes, so it requires constant vigilance," said Joe Flynn, Director of Vermont Emergency Management.

The Montpelier Fire and Ambulance Department says the river has been jammed from Lower State Street to Taylor Street since Saturday night. "We've been watching the weather over the last three or four days and we knew there was a potential for this. We started getting notifications that there was some jamming in the rivers," said Montpelier Fire Department Chief Robert Gowans.

Other parts of the state are also dealing with ice jams -- like in Lyndonville where streets were soaked with high water.  "There's a perpetual problem of high water in times like this in Lyndonville area, intersection of Route 5 and Route 114. Certainly the Winooski in the last 12 hours through Richmond and Jonesville," Flynn said.

The Winooski River jam caused the North Branch River to back up, resulting in a flooded basement for one business. "Usually you can kind of feel it happening with the rain, the ice, the warm temps -- but actually this morning when I came in I saw the water.  It was a little unexpected," said Tristan VonDuntz with Onion River Sports.

So far, they're the only business to flood and city officials hope other businesses in the area will use this as a sign to prepare. City officials are also making sure residents stay safe -- and stay out of flooded basements with exposed wires. "We sent out that notification this morning alerting the community to what was going on and giving them some basic public safety tips," said Montpelier Assistant City Manager Jessie Baker.

"So far what we're hearing is this is predominately the northern half to third of the state. We're not hearing from a lot of communities yet in the southern half of the state that they're having any significant issues, but that could change at any minute," Flynn said.

The ice jam in Montpelier hasn't caused any residential flooding yet. Officials say with higher temperatures, they're hoping the ice will break itself up.  WIth lower temperatures there are concerns that the river could back up and that could lead to flooding.  "Until Mother Nature and the conditions allow these ice jams to let go, the backup is going to create problems potentially in areas," Flynn said.

Road crews are also working to clear culverts of ice and patch potholes left behind by the rain.  Vermont Emergency Management officials are asking drivers to stay away from roads that may be flooded and to report flooded homes or roads immediately.

Click here for link to Montpelier area flood gauges

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