A storm that left up to two months' worth of rain in Vermont and saturated other parts of the Northeast was moving out Tuesday, but more flooding was expected after already cutting off access to some communities, including the main approach to the state capital.
There have been no reports of injuries or deaths related to the Vermont flooding, according to emergency officials. But dozens of roads were closed, including many along the spine of the Green Mountains. And the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings and advisories for much of the state from the Massachusetts line north to the Canadian border.
The slow-moving storm reached New England after hitting parts of New York, where one person died as she was trying to leave her home during flash flooding, and Connecticut on Sunday.
President Joe Biden, who is in Vilnius, Lithuania, attending the annual NATO summit, declared an emergency exists in Vermont and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide assistance.
The White House will continue to monitor the effects of the flooding, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a briefing Tuesday, urging people in affected areas “to please, please be safe, and follow safety protocols.”
Some communities received between 7 and 9 inches (17.78 centimeters and 22.86 centimeters) of rain by Monday night.
Flooding affected Montpelier, the state capital. Interstate 89, a major highway, was closed in both directions between the Montpelier and Middlesex, and north of Montpelier.
Montpelier Town Manager Bill Fraser warned that the Wrightsville Dam several miles to the north on the North Branch of the Winooski River could exceed capacity. That's never happened before.
“There would be a large amount of water coming into Montpelier which would drastically add to the existing flood damage,” he said, adding that there are very few evacuation options remaining.
“People in at risk areas may wish to go to upper floors in their houses.”
The city has asked for swift water rescue crews to be moved into the area to assist when possible. Crews from North Carolina, Michigan and Connecticut were among those helping to get to Vermont towns on Monday that had been unreachable since torrents of rain began belting the state.
The teams have done more than 50 rescues, mainly in the southern and central areas of the state, Vermont Emergency Management said Monday night.
“We have not seen rainfall like this since Irene,” Vermont Gov. Phil 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 (805 kilometers) 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.
Shelters were set up at churches and town halls.
Some people canoed to the Cavendish Baptist Church in Vermont, which had turned into a shelter while volunteers made cookies for firefighters working on rescues.
“People are doing OK. It's just stressful,” shelter volunteer Amanda Gross said.
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."
People in New York and Connecticut were cleaning up from earlier rain. The National Weather Service in Burlington said rain in the northern part of Vermont was expected to lessen Tuesday, but more rain was in the forecast for Thursday.
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 with her dog in the hamlet of Fort Montgomery.
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was pounded with more than 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) of rain that sent debris sliding onto some roads and washed others out.
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.’”
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, with hundreds of flight cancellations in the New York area and Boston airports. Amtrak temporarily suspended service between Albany and New York.
Troy Caruso, who owns a golf course, five restaurants and a motel in Ludlow, Vermont, said he's been checking the damage to his properties and in the town of about 800 people. A supermarket and shopping center were “wiped out,” he said, as was a steakhouse and possibly a burger joint he owned.
“It’s flooded beyond belief,” Caruso said of the town, noting that the 10th hole of his golf course was underwater.
“We just got done cleaning up these properties, flowers planted, the whole nine yards,” he said. “We are going to have to start all over again.”