Officials Assess Flood Damage, As Residents Try To Cope

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(Host) Federal emergency management officials have begun touring the Lake Champlain shoreline to assess damage from historically high water. National Guard troops have also started to help protect homes and businesses from the wind-driven water.

(Sneyd) Art Marchesseault drove down to Burlington from his home on St. Albans Bay to see the gauge that’s been measuring just how high Lake Champlain has risen.

When he got there, the lake still stood near its record high of 103.2 feet. But up at Hathaway Point on the bay, the lake level is only half the story. He says winds out of the west are a threat.

(Marchessault) "And different people they’re exposed in that direction. This could cause some significant problems because as the waves and the wind comes in, it blows more water in. So it’s liable to be higher just because of that than if the waves were out of the north."

(Sneyd) Marchessault’s own home sits on a rise and is protected. But his driveway dips and he can’t get through the foot-and-a-half of water. So he’s staying with friends.

His mother’s home is almost at the lake level and the water stands inches away. Friends helped board up windows earlier this week to protect the building from floating debris.

Marchessault happened upon Governor Peter Shumlin at the Burlington waterfront and thanked him for calling in National Guard troops to help with sandbags and other chores.

Shumlin took an aerial tour this week and says there’s more damage with every wave.

(Shumlin) "It just breaks your heart. As you fly along the coast what General Dubie and I saw was in any low-lying area on this lake right now, you’re under water if you’re low."

(Sneyd) The most difficult thing for a lakeshore resident like Art Marchessault is to watch helplessly as the water and waves threaten his family’s homes and those of his neighbors.

But he remains positive, and plans a family celebration this summer to mark a big birthday for his mother.

(Marchessault) "She’ll come up in June, hopefully about the middle of June, but whenever the water goes down. And then we’re going to have a 100th year celebration in July."

(Sneyd) Marchessault says, like his neighbors, his mom is resilient.

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