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Millions in storm damage in southern Vermont

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:58 PM EDT
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PUTNEY, Vt. (WCAX) - Gov. Phil Scott toured areas in southern Vermont heavily impacted by the recent storms.

Upward of 5 inches of rain fell during one storm, washing out roads and culverts throughout southern Vermont.

“This was of the roads that was completely closed,” Westminster Town Manager Russell Hodgkins said, pointing to a washed-out road.

The price tag for road damage in Westminster-- more than half a million dollars.

“By the time that was all said and done, we had 17 roads that were closed at that time,” Hodgkins said.

In nearby Putney, the cost to the town is even higher. As state officials, including the governor, got a close-up look at the damage, they reflected on Tropical Storm Irene which is nearing its 10th anniversary of wreaking havoc on the region.

“Not as widespread as Irene but just as impactful for the residents,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

“Similar hazards, though. You look at flash flooding, came on fast, left fast, it’s sunny the next day,” Vt. Emergency Management Director Erica Bornemann said.

Like when Irene hit, state officials will be looking to FEMA to help pay for the damages. In the meantime, individual towns will be taking out lines of credit to make needed repairs. Early estimates for Windham and Bennington counties are around $4.6 million

It wasn’t just the damage that concerned Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint, who also toured the area. She says the state’s 211 phone system to report problems was sending people to voicemail.

“That was one of my main concerns. Is that in real-time, people needed to be able to report where the roads were out so we could keep our neighbors off of those roads,” said Sen. Balint, D-Brattleboro.

State officials say the system is working, though they acknowledged some people left messages to report damage. In Putney, there were close to three dozen different problem areas.

“The best way for folks to stay prepared and stay informed about the hazards in their area is to join Vermont Alert,” Bornemann said.

State officials will be holding virtual tours with FEMA to assess the damage. The governor has 30 days to officially declare a disaster emergency.

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