(NECN: Jack Thurston, Barre, Vt.) - Governor Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, announced Friday he wrote President Barack Obama requesting a disaster declaration for Vermont. The request follows intense rain and hail Thursday night. That combined with saturated earth and swollen rivers to create flash flooding. The floodwaters caused massive amounts of damage, especially in central and northeastern parts of Vermont.
Vermont's congressional delegation echoed Shumlin's request to the White House. Vermont "is completely saturated to an unprecedented magnitude," wrote Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, and Bernie Sanders I-Vt., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.
The delegation added, "The timely delivery of much-needed resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is absolutely critical to help Vermonters, working together, to respond to this disaster."
In downtown Barre, Vt., a group of friends was trying to save a car after it got swamped. Water gushed from the exhaust pipe as the driver tried to get the car moving. Flash floods came so quickly in Central Vermont Thursday night that parts of several Barre streets crumbled away, and much of the city was left drowning.
Kacy Dailey scooped mud from her car. She saw the water rise right up to the door. "Basically the only thing I can do is hope it gets started, eventually," Dailey lamented.
All over the community, first responders were dealing with road closures. "It's a city-wide disaster," Barre city manager Steven Mackenzie said.
Mackenzie told NECN he has no guess as to how long cleanup will take. Ultimately, he, like Gov. Shumlin, expects to turn to federal disaster officials for help. Barre had three priorities: making sure residents were safe, getting flooded streets back open, and helping businesses re-open.
Kevin Major was cleaning sludge off Barre's Main Street business district. "It's ridiculous," he sighed.
The swollen Winooski river dumped tons of sediment when it crested its banks. Major feared he'll be back cleaning up mud again over the weekend, because more storms were in the forecast. "The rivers are rising," he said. "It's crazy. It's absolutely crazy."
Safety officials are reminding Vermonters to not drive over flooded roads, in case the pavement underneath the water washed away.
Vermont Governor Shumlin and Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott are pledging support to the flooding victims. When they went to hard-hit St. Johnsbury, Vt. Friday, they praised firefighters for their hard work, including saving a home that caught fire when lightning struck it.