Vermont flooding overwhelms US state's capital

Governor said floodwaters surpassed levels of deadly hurricane more than a decade ago

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Officials in the state of Vermont were expected to focus on recovery efforts on Wednesday morning after days of intense rain inundated the capital city of Montpellier, causing widespread flooding.

Fears that a dam upstream of Montpellier could cause catastrophic flooding were alleviated when the barrier appeared to be stable late on Tuesday.

The city of Montpellier said that the Winooski and North Branch rivers had receded and were below flood stage, and that the Wrightsville Dam water levels were such that the dam was not expected to breach.

“It looks like it won’t breach. That is good. That is one less thing we have to have on our front burner," Montpelier town manager Bill Fraser said.

Mr Fraser said he was still concerned about the dam, but that officials are now focusing on recovery efforts with the waters receding.

The storm reached the area after passing New York and Connecticut on Sunday. Some areas in Vermont recorded up to 22cm of rain in 24 hours.

Some residents in Montpellier had to negotiate waist-high floodwaters while others kayaked to inspect the scenes.

Buildings in the neighbouring towns of Barre and Bridgewater were also flooded after rain overwhelmed the Ottauquechee River.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday said his administration has approved an emergency declaration that mobilises federal assistance to the state.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott said that floodwaters had surpassed the levels recorded during Hurricane Irene, which killed six people in the state in 2011.

"The coming weeks will be difficult, but we’ve faced challenges before, and Vermonters have risen to meet the moment," Mr Scott wrote on Twitter.

"Whether during Irene, Covid, or other hardships, we have proven time and time again we’re willing and able to step up and help our neighbours."

Updated: July 12, 2023, 12:53 PM