Storm Devastates Parts of Orleans County

ORLEANS COUNTY - Some Northeast Kingdom residents had tense moments when thunderstorms, hail and a tornado warning moved through the region.The storms were part of a front that brought hard rain and lightning in the morning. By midday, a cold front with severe thunderstorms moved in and lasted until the evening hours. Southern Orleans County and Lamoille County were some of the hardest hit areas.National Weather Service officials were in the region yesterday to determine if any tornadoes touched down. The storms caused some flooding and minor wind damage. Some residents said the damage from these storms was worse than from Tropical Storm Irene, which spared much of the Northeast Kingdom but devastated central and southern Vermont.According to the National Weather Service, some areas saw anywhere from a half inch to 1.5 inches of rain.Tom Tetreault, from the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said there were multiple washouts on Route 100 in Lowell, minor washouts on Route 14 and a few mudslides on Route 5A.Andre Leblanc of Lowell was one of the residents who was there to see it all unfold.“About four o’clock, after all that rain, the river started to come over its banks,” said Leblanc. “I had just come back from picking my kids up at school. When I came through the village, the water was already up in my neighbor’s field.”Leblanc, who knew something was coming, drove over the bridge just past his house on Route 100 and saw water up to the banks. He turned around, went home and checked out the brook behind his house. The brook, he said, was over his ledge and starting to cross his lawn.“I had my fears something not good was going to happen,” said Leblanc. He went into the house and told his family they needed to leave. He looked out his front door and saw water rushing on his front lawn. The family got ready and headed to the vehicles parked in the garage. They drove their cars through a foot and half to two feet of water. “If we had waited any longer, the vehicles would have stayed right there.”Leblanc remembers a similar situation during the flood of 1996, but it was much worse this time.“This is terrible,” he said of the damage the water left behind. “The water was going over the bridge.”The damage included a large washout of Leblanc’s driveway and five feet of water in his basement. Wednesday, there was mud everywhere, Leblanc said.“I lived here 50 years and it’s happened twice and that was in the last 10 years,” said Leblanc, a lifelong resident of Lowell. “I never thought, when I was a kid, we’d see water over the road like this, but it happened.”According to Vermont Electric Co-Op’s website, there were numerous outages throughout the day. Co-Op officials said about 2,700 members were without power longer than two minutes. Amanda Niklaus said the longest outage was 10 hours long, however, she wasn't sure where it was.