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A storm that dumped up to two months of rain in two days in Vermont and other parts of the Northeast brought more flooding Tuesday to communities that included the state capital Montpelier, where officials said that river levels at a dam just upstream appeared to be stable.
The city of Montpelier said Tuesday night that the Wrightsville Dam was “beginning to recede,” and both the Winooski and North Branch Rivers were “now below flood stage.”
Montpelier Town Manager Bill Fraser said the Wrightsville Dam remains a lingering concern but that the city was shifting to a recovery mode, with public works employees expected out Wednesday morning to start removing mud and debris from downtown streets. Building inspections will start as businesses begin cleaning up their properties.
“The dam did not spill over. The water in the dam is still up there but it stabilized. We are feeling like the water going over the spillway of the dam is not an imminent threat,” Fraser said. “It looks like it won’t breach. That is good. That is one less thing we have to have on our front burner.”
Water levels at the Wrightsville Dam had nearly reached the spillway just before noon Tuesday, but the Montpelier Police Department said it did not increase significantly over the next two hours and, citing an onsite safety representative for the dam, added that any further increases would likely be “minimal.”  
President Biden, who’s in Lithuania for a NATO summit, declared a state of emergency for Vermont, the White House said Tuesday.
All Vermont state offices were closed Tuesday. Residents in Montpelier and nearby Berlin should boil their water, officials said, citing concerns that extreme flooding had contaminated the system’s drinking water.
No injuries or deaths linked to the storms had been reported in the state as of Tuesday. In a briefing held by Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and his response team Tuesday morning, officials said that local, state and federal crews had carried out at least 117 rescues and 67 evacuations from flooded homes, businesses and vehicles, and some reports of people trapped were still active. Close to 80 roads were closed.
Rescue efforts in Vermont will likely take several days, as the governor warned that flooding was “not over yet.”
“Make no mistake, the devastation and flooding we are experiencing across Vermont is historic and catastrophic,” Scott said, while tweeting images and aerial video footage showing cars and buildings partially underwater and a railroad track partially destroyed.
“We have not seen rainfall like this since Irene,” Scott
 said, referring to Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. That storm killed six in the state, washed homes off their foundations and damaged or destroyed more than 200 bridges and 500 miles of highway.
What’s different is that Irene lasted just about 24 hours, Scott said.
“This is going on. We’re getting just as much rain, if not more. It’s going on for days. That’s my concern. It’s not just the initial damage. It’s the wave, the second wave, and the third wave,” he said.
While the sun was out Tuesday and would be out again Wednesday, more rain was forecast Thursday and Friday. But Peter Banacos, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the state will be spared any further torrential downpours. 
Police and fire departments in Montpelier were working out of a water treatment plant in Berlin because of heavy flooding in the department’s basement, city hall and the fire department, said Montpelier Police Chief Eric Nordenson in a statement Tuesday morning, and three radio towers in Washington County, which are used to dispatch fire and ambulances, were “not functional.”
Andrew Molen, co-owner of Sam’s Steakhouse in Ludlow, Vermont, located about 80 miles south of Montpellier, on Tuesday showed CBS News the damage to his restaurant. Ring camera video captured the restaurant’s kitchen filling with water and overtaking equipment. The two-year-old restaurant is now a mess.
“It’s devastating,” Molen said of the flooding. “We lost bridges, we lost roads, cars went down rivers, the power, there was such force it was moving dumpsters that were full.”
Ludlow Municipal Manager Brendan McNamara said the roughly 1,500-person town “sustained catastrophic damage. We just really took the brunt of the storm.”
“I talked to people today that said my house is gone. Thankfully we got through it with no loss of life,” he said, adding the damage was worse than Tropical Storm Irene. “Ludlow will be fine. People are coming together and taking care of each other. We’ve been here before and we will get through it.”
Among the losses was the town’s water treatment plant. Its main supermarket remained closed. The main roadway through town had yet to be fully reopened and McNamara couldn’t begin to estimate how many houses had been damaged. The town’s Little League field and a new skate park were destroyed, and scores of businesses were damaged.
Meanwhile, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers had initially warned late Monday that it expected two other dams to release water overnight, causing “severe flooding.” But, in an update early Tuesday, the group said risks of significant spillover from Ball Mountain Dam in Jamaica and Townshend Dam in Townshend, which are about 20 miles apart, had diminished overnight. 
“Water will still be released from the dams, but in smaller amounts than previously anticipated,” the Army Corps of Engineers’ New England district wrote in a tweet
For good measure, the Montpelier city government wrote on Facebook, “It’s not just your imagination that this is a big flood. This has been the second highest recorded Winooski River level in history, behind only the historic 1927 flood. This is higher than 1992 and both 2011 flood events.”
Montpelier and nearby Barre, Vermont, issued emergency health orders closing their downtowns until at least noon, Vermont Public Television reported.
Rescue crews from North Carolina, Michigan and Connecticut were among those helping to get to Vermont towns that had been unreachable since torrents of rain began belting the state, according to Mike Cannon of Vermont Urban Search and Rescue. 
FEMA sent a team to Vermont, along with emergency communications equipment, and is prepared to keep shelters supplied if the state requests it. The agency also is monitoring flooding in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, regional spokesperson Dennis Pinkham said Tuesday.
Vermont Rep. Kelly Pajala said she and about a half dozen others evacuated early Monday from a four-unit apartment building on the West River in Londonderry.
“The river was at our doorstep,” said Pajala. “We threw some dry clothes and our cats into the car and drove to higher ground.”
The slow-moving storm reached New England after hitting parts of New York and Connecticut on Sunday. Some communities received between 7 and 9 inches of rain.    
One of the worst-hit places was New York’s Hudson Valley, where a woman identified by police as Pamela Nugent, 43, died as she tried to escape her flooded home in the hamlet of Fort Montgomery. 
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was pounded with more than 8 inches of rain that sent debris sliding onto some roads and washed others out. West Point said in a Facebook post that it was “making great progress” amid ongoing clean-up efforts on Tuesday, although it warned people in the area to stay vigilant while driving and avoid barricaded roads and standing water.
Officials say the storm has already wrought tens of millions of dollars in damage.
“Nine inches of rain in this community,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a briefing on a muddy street in Highland Falls. “They’re calling this a ‘1,000-year event.'”
As of Monday evening, several washed-out streets in Highland Falls remained impassable, leaving some residents stuck in their homes, according to Police Chief Frank Basile. The village police station itself was full of mud and leaves after being flooded with about 5 inches of water, Basile said.
Atmospheric scientists say destructive flooding events are spurred by storms forming in a warmer atmosphere, making extreme rainfall a reality. The additional warming that scientists predict is coming will only make it worse.
The storm also interrupted travel. There were hundreds of flight cancellations at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports and more than 200 at Boston’s Logan Airport, according to the Flightaware website. Amtrak temporarily suspended service between Albany and New York.
First published on July 11, 2023 / 6:12 AM EDT
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