Flooding Damage Reaches Threshold For Federal Aid

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(Host) Damage from the spring floods of the past week are enough that state officials believe Vermont will qualify for federal disaster assistance.

But as VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, the officials also worry about what’s still to come.

(Sneyd) Governor Peter Shumlin stood at the foot of King Street in Burlington.

He was more than 100 yards inland from the ferry dock, but the waves of Lake Champlain were practically lapping at his feet.

He traveled to the lake to announce that there’s been enough damage in Vermont to warrant federal aid.

(Shumlin) "We have determined that we have certainly reached the threshold for federal funding to help us deal with the damage from these floods."

(Sneyd) Damage to roads, buildings and other facilities in Vermont cities and towns totals nearly $3 million. State facilities have suffered $622,000 in damage.

All of the water from last week’s rain and melting snow has washed into Lake Champlain and it’s well beyond its normal shoreline.

The governor says conditions will get worse.

(Shumlin) "We do expect that because of the forecast we’re in for some turbulent times over the next few days."

(Sneyd) Heavy rain will send the lake toward 103 feet above sea level – which is three feet above where the lake begins to flood.

Shumlin says the wind will cause even more damage to lakeshore roads and homes.

(Shumlin) "What it does is it erodes under the structure of the roads, under the structure of bridges. Obviously it takes out foundations for homes. So wind is a real challenge."

(Sneyd) Transportation Secretary Brian Searles says one of the worst-hit areas on the Vermont lakeshore is Isle LaMotte, the northernmost of the Champlain Islands.

(Searles) "There’s water all the way across the island. So, not only the shore roads, but Route 129 in the middle has water."

(Sneyd) VTrans crews are trying to put in temporary fill that will allow them to drain Route 129 and reopen access to Isle LaMotte.

State officials say until water recedes, drivers and pedestrians should stay away from standing water on roads.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

Real time Lake Champlain data

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