Winooski River Floods, 196 Moved To Shelters

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(Host) Heavy rains and storms hit the region last night, causing the Winooski River and several tributaries to overspill their banks. 

American Red Cross shelters have been opened to assists those displaced by the flooding.

The American Red Cross says 142 people are at a shelter at the Barre Auditorium, and 54 people are at a shelter at the National Life Building in Montpelier.

A shelter was opened in St. Johnsbury, but has since closed. 

Emergency Management officials called in Vermont National Guard support just before midnight to help with the evacuations.  

Director Mike O’Neil says Washington and Orange counties are not out of the woods yet:

(O’Neil) "The information we have from the National Weather Service is that the river is supposed to crest in Montpelier somewhere around 8 o’clock this morning. And what we’re looking at is a lull for a few hours, and then the Weather Service says its going to start raining again."

(Host) O’Neil says people in flooded areas need to take precautions:

(O’Neil) "Trying to remind folks not to drive across flooded roads, if you don’t’ need to be out, don’t be out. There’s going to be quite a bit of issues with road closures, around this area for sure."

(Host)  Eye on the Sky Meteorologist Mark Breen says the strong thunderstorms brought several inches of rain to the region. 2-5 inches of rain fell in six hours, and baseball-sized hail was reported in Duxbury.

More storms with heavy rains, strong winds and hail are in the forecast for this afternoon.

Green Mountain Power says the utility had to cut power in some areas and flooding has made it impossible for trucks to reach equipment to restore power.  

There are many school closings this morning in Caledonia and Washington counties, you can find that information here. There are many road closures as well.

Current Road closures:

Route 14 Barre Town vicinity Gillies Marine – flooding.  Will be closed for a while. Route 5 Passumpsic – flooding.  Will be closed for a while.

State offices in all counties have been authorized to operate on a reduced workforce status from 3:00am to 10:00am on Friday, May 27, 2011. Employees who are affected by the reduced workforce status during this period may do so without loss of pay or benefits. Motorists are reminded to never drive across flooded roads. Floodwaters can create unseen washouts and in flash flooding the current can be extremely strong; strong enough to wash away you and your car. Most flooding deaths occur when motorists drive through floodwaters.

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