Catastrophic Floods From Irene Sweep Breadth Of Vermont

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(Host) Catastrophic floods swept Vermont from south to north on Sunday as Tropical Storm Irene dumped torrential rains.

Bridges were swept away, roads washed out and dozens had to be rescued.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports.

(Sneyd) The winds that many feared haven’t materialized. But the rain has been torrential.

Floodwaters stretch from the Deerfield Valley into the Champlain Valley and now central Vermont.

People have been stranded and emergency crews have had difficulty reaching them because so many roads are washed out or flooded.

That even includes Interstate 91 between Rockingham and Westminster.

Many other major Vermont roads are closed. Route Nine is inaccessible from Brattleboro to Bennington. Routes 4 and 7 are closed in areas.

Transportation Secretary Brian Searles says even where there’s no water on the road, there could be danger.

(Searles) "We have slope failures, mudslides, landslides. We had many of them early this year in the spring. Some of those haven’t been repaired. So we’re having to deal with them all over again. Only there’s a potential that they’ll be even worse."

(Sneyd) Emergency crews were searching for a woman who was last seen being swept downstream in the Deerfield River.

The rain is expected to move out of Vermont to the Northeast by late tonight. But officials say there will still be dangers from rainwater runoff.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd in Waterbury.

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