(NECN: Jack Thurston, Williamstown, Vt.) - After 3-5 inches of rain pounded isolated sections of Vermont's Orange County late Monday night and into early Tuesday morning, Williamstown was left with major damage to clean up. The Associated Press reported 15-20 families were urged to evacuate their homes as water gushed inside their properties. When the water receded Tuesday, it left behind thick mud and plenty of messes.
Williamstown's little league field was drowning under high water and thick mud Tuesday morning. Firefighters pumped water from the lowest level of the library. Residents sprayed and scraped muck from sidewalks and parking lots. A branch of the Randolph National Bank was swamped. Silt, gravel, and water swallowed a handful of cars.
"We had trees coming down, rocks coming down. Hell you name it, everything was coming down," recalled Henry DuFresne, who told New England Cable News he has lived in the center of Williamstown since the 1950s.
The 85-year-old said at one point, he feared his house would be lost to the raging Jail Branch brook.
"I saw a mess," he said. "This was worse than [Tropical Storm] Irene for this part of Williamstown."
DuFresne showed NECN his basement, which was full of several inches of mud. His furnace was dead, and will require repairs and new parts, DuFresne said.
DuFresne was just one of several victims of flash flooding who watched water gush into their homes and rip apart their yards.
"This is my children's play area; my dog's play area," homeowner Brandy Todd told a representative from FEMA who was touring Williamstown. "And it's gone. Completely gone."
Todd, who told NECN her home of 15 years suffered extensive damage to the yard, garage, and pool from rushing water and mud, told FEMA this was the third time in a few years she has had to make fixes to her property, and it has gotten to be too much.
FEMA and Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt. were touring the town to assess damage left by this latest blow in what's been a summer of powerful storms. A series of violent, isolated storms in July have followed others in May and June, the wettest consecutive months on record in Vermont, according to the National Weather Service. Meteorologists said nearly 20 inches of rain fell in the Burlington area during that period, with more rain pounding foothills and surrounding areas.
"It's heartbreaking," sighed Gov. Shumlin. "We continue to get deluged by rain. Vermont just can't take it."
Shumlin said he expects the state to qualify for federal money to fix its badly-beaten public infrastructure. Roads and bridges that both state and town crews maintain have crumbled during this series of storm events, after the ground became too saturated to absorb any more water.
Because its assessment is ongoing, FEMA could not say definitively whether Vermont will receive help from Washington for its public property repairs. When it comes to individuals’ losses, Mark Landry, the top federal emergency management official for the state, told NECN that standards are different for a state to qualify for residents receiving money from Washington to supplement their insurance.
"Individual assistance has a threshold of catastrophic-level damage; widespread damage, versus individual homes and what not," Landry explained.
Dillion Benoit, 12, was helping clear away muck from Williamstown's storm drains, streets, and sidewalks. He told NECN he was well aware recovering from this mess will take a while.
"Williamstown's pretty good," Benoit said. "We'll get through it. We usually do."
Williamstown and other Vermont communities are now bracing for even more potential damage, because there's even more rain in the forecast. No one was reported injured in the flash flooding that ripped through Williamstown, according to the town manager's office.