NORTHEAST KINGDOM – Tropical storm Irene hit the region Sunday leaving behind what some are calling historic flooding. “It was probably as high as I've ever seen it,” said Orleans Fire Chief Ron Hoyt. “It came up pretty fast. It went up two feet in 20 minutes.”
Flooding from the Barton River prompted firefighters to respond to Blanchard Oil and the Ethan Allen Manufacturing Plant in Orleans Village late Sunday evening.
Mark Tinker, owner of Blanchard Oil, said water entered the business even though earlier in the day he, his staff, and firefighters placed sandbags along the length of the building.
“It was an uphill battle from there,” said Tinker, referring when water started entering the building. “The water rose really quickly.” Tinker said he had a couple feet of water in his basement and some supplies and equipment sustained damage. The business opened on Monday, but Tinker was working on determining the extent of the damage. Attempts to reach Ethan Allen officials were unsuccessful.
Firefighters from Irasburg and Barton assisted in the village during the flooding. Hoyt had high praise for the firefighters who worked on the scene until just before dawn Monday.
The storm caused the Brownington Center Bridge to drop three feet and parts of Route 242 to wash out as well as the rail track between Orleans and Barton.
Flooding was also a problem in Coventry Village where officials closed Route 5 between the village and Newport City. Coventry Village resident Steve Taylor said his house as well as his father’s house flooded. Taylor said that his father’s house had seven feet of water in the basement and two inches on the first floor.
Flooding promoted officials to evacuate Main Street in Lyndonville. Locally, a shelter opened at the Barton Ambulance Service Building. There, four people spent the day, officials said.
Vermont Emergency Management did not have a lot of information about the storm with the exception that a 21-year-old woman lost her life after she reportedly fell into the Deerfield River.
As of midday on Monday, about 45,000 Vermonters were still without power. The Vermont Electric Corporative stated through an automated recording that 3,300 members were without power. VEC said most members should have their power restored by the end of the day Monday. However, a few outages may linger into the middle of the week.
“Restoration efforts are moving slowly because heavy rains and flooding have made it difficult for crews to reach some outages,” stated the recording.
Mark Bosma, public information officer for VEM, said washed out roads may cause some problems for line workers.
Storm damage is going to be costly for the state.
“It’s going to add up,” said Tom Tetreault, general manager for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. “We’re going to see some pretty high numbers before we’re done. It could have been a lot worse.”