Ever So Slowly, Floodwaters Ebb

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(Host) The sun has shone on the Champlain Valley for the past few days, giving flood-weary residents a respite from rising waters.

But as VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, officials say the wind that’s cleared clouds is still a danger along the lakeshore.

(Sneyd) Lake Champlain’s shoreline in Vermont, Quebec and New York remains a flood zone.

But the situation has begun to improve.

(Minter) "The good news for us is that the lake levels are tapering, very gradually."

(Sneyd) Sue Minter is deputy secretary of the Vermont Transportation Agency.

She says it’s hard to notice, just by looking at the lake, that it has actually gone down. She says that’s because there’s another factor that will continue to wreak havoc for lakeside homes, businesses and roads.

(Minter) "We do have upcoming wind and we are continuing to armor, as we call it, to shield and protect those key arteries connecting the mainland to the islands, particularly Route 2."

(Sneyd) Water has drained from stretches of the Route 2 causeway between Milton and the Champlain Islands. But there are still trouble spots.

Other state agencies share the concern about the winds that are expected to rake the lake basin this week.

Mark Bosma of Vermont Emergency Management says weekend breezes showed what can happen.

(Bosma) "It’s a big concern. If you get strong winds, say yesterday there were gusts coming out of the north and I saw one road in Shelburne with a north-facing house that was just, it was flooded. And the water is supposed to be receding but this was new flooding and it was simply because the water was being pushed toward the home."

(Sneyd) A team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will assess damage this week to determine if Vermont will get help repairing damage.

In the meantime, though, officials hope people will stay away from the lakefront if they can so trucks can get through.

In Burlington, Parks and Recreation Director Mari Steinbach says her crew has set up barricades around flooded waterfront parks. But she says visitors still need to be careful.

(Steinbach) "We ask the public to use extreme care and caution when trying to access any of the public parks along the waterfront and to please look for those barricades and know that hazards that are not currently marked may still exist."

(Sneyd) The city is also working with the organizer of the Burlington Marathon to reroute parts of it around the city’s flood-damaged bicycle path.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.


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