(Host) Central Vermont communities are still cleaning up after last week’s devastating floods. Officials estimate the damage in Barre City alone has topped $1 million dollars.
But as VPR’s John Dillon reports, that estimate doesn’t include homes or personal property destroyed by the raging waters.
(Dillon) At Amy West’s house on River Street in Barre, the Stevens Branch of the Winooski River swamped her basement and rose up about nine inches over the first floor. The living room and kitchen of the small house are water-damaged and stained with mud.
(West) "Everything’s got to go. All of the floors, all of the appliances. The basement was completely engulfed. Not much is keepable."
(Dillon) West has owned the home for nine years. It was her fixer-up project, she says. But now the work just got a lot harder.
(West) "I have flood insurance, no contents coverage. So, which is happening to everybody on this street and around. Structurally you can fix it, but everything you owned – it’s pretty gone. It’s pretty devastating."
(Dillon) On Thursday night, she and her family were rescued by the fire department as the water rose and swept through the house. As a clean-up crew works around her, West says she doesn’t know when she can move back in.
(West) "We are at the mercy of friends and family. And we have wonderful, wonderful friends and family that are helping us. So, luckily I have secured at least a place for us to stay, for momentarily. But flood insurance doesn’t cover you to stay anywhere. So you lose your house in a flood, where do you go? A shelter? I have two small kids. I don’t want them in a shelter."
(Dillon) Across the river, the sound of cleanup continues at numerous businesses, including Dessureau Machines. The company makes equipment for manufacturers in the area, but production is shut down at the moment. Employee Kory Barcaly is shoveling a big pile of mud into the back of a pickup.
(Barcaly) "The two storm drains are right there, them all got plugged right up. You can see the lines right on the window there, that’s where the water was. We had a tractor and a bucket loader and dump truck in here scooping it all up, but this was what they couldn’t get."
(Dillon) The water tore up roads and now a thick layer of dust covers city streets.
City manager Steven Mackenzie says there’s at least $1 million in damage to public infrastructure. The state has applied for federal disaster relief to help cover some of that cost. But for now, he says, the city is focusing on cleaning streets and assessing damage.
(Mackenzie) "All of the streets will be relatively cleaned, the mud and debris piles removed. The dust that is now part of the problem from the dried mud, hopefully will be controlled.
(Dillon) The area is crisscrossed with little streams, and Mackenzie says people usually like to live close to the water.
(Mackenzie) "And 99 percent of the time, these rivers and brooks, they’re nice and they’re nice to have in your backyard. It’s just that one percent of the time when they act up."
(Dillon) MacKenzie says one small stream – Gunner Brook – became so swollen last week that it sent rushing water downtown and swept huge logs 30 feet long or more crashing into a bridge.
For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Barre.