As Shore Roads Wash Out, Ferry Landing Becomes Hard To Reach

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(Host) Lake Champlain hit a record high this morning of three feet above flood stage.

The high water is making it increasingly difficult to travel around Lake Champlain, especially for people who use a temporary ferry connecting West Addison, Vermont and Crown Point, New York, where the Lake Champlain Bridge is under construction.

VPR’s Melody Bodette reports. 

(Bodette) Since Lake Champlain began flooding, Elo McGlaughlin has started her day earlier than usual: 

(McGlaughlin) "Basically I get up at 6:00 every morning and first thing I check is if the ferry is closed. And that is our biggest worry because of course then we have to go through Whitehall and we have to go that whole 2 hour one way trip."

(Bodette) McGlaughlin is one of the hundreds of people who live in New York, but travel to Vermont for jobs. McGlaughlin works at Northlands Job Corps Vergennes and says when the water started rising, it became trickier to get there:

(McGlaughlinn) "I’m very nervous because last week, at the marina in Addison we had to drive through water, which is  very scary for me because I’m always worried that there’s nothing underneath it anymore."

(Bodette) People who use the ferry are finding it harder to get to the dock. That’s because the ferry lands at Chimney Point, which is a peninsula created where two creeks flow into Lake Champlain. Normally, cars cross the water on causeway bridges.

(Hear water lapping at road)

(Bodette) The Route 125 causeway is closed because it’s under several feet of water. Last week transportation workers put concrete barriers next to the guardrails on the Route 17 causeway and filled the area with gravel to keep the road open.

But water is creeping towards the tops of the barriers. Officials say if the water level goes up another six inches, they’ll have to close the road.

New York drivers have to take many detours to get to the ferry because of high water on that side of the lake. Alex Shmulsky of Ticonderoga says most people are just dealing with it:

(Shmulsky) "I’m an attorney and I was in court yesterday and the assistant district attorney was 40 minutes late because she got detoured in Moriah… There’s a lot of unpredictable floodings and road detours everywhere."

(Bodette) Josh Ross also lives in Ticonderoga. He was on his way to Vermont:

(Ross) "The Ticonderoga ferry is more or less inoperable because the water has come out of the lake over the parking lot. I’m going to help an aunt because her basement is flooding and she doesn’t have a sump pump so I’m going to the rescue."

(Bodette) In West Addison, George Raymond was putting his pump to work. His house is standing in several inches of water:

(Raymond) "The water seems to be still rising a little bit, we don’t have an eight foot basement but we have a two foot crawl space and I’m pumping water of out it as we speak, and I’m going to be pumping out of it for another two days at least."

(Bodette) Raymond’s house is separated from the lake by a bank that’s normally 4 feet high, but water has still found him:

(Raymond) "We have a swamp out back, and when that floods, the swamp water goes out here and it associates around this cottage. So it’s coming from the lake because there’s a culvert right there and it’s just got no place to go it’s backed up."

(Bodette) Raymond says he’s lucky to have no damage so far. But many along Lake Champlain are still waiting for the water to recede so the clean-up can begin.

For VPR News, I’m Melody Bodette in West Addison.

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