(NECN: Jack Thurston, Richmond, Vt.) - With more than seven inches of rain and counting, this month will go down as one of the rainiest Junes ever for Vermont. This week, the Green Mountain State is dealing with the latest round of headaches caused by significant rainfall.
A massive gulch opened up on Fields Lane in Jericho, Vt. when torrential rains tore through late Tuesday. The hole, created when racing runoff stole stone and earth, swallowed sections of the road, private yards, and driveways.
On nearby Barber Farm Road, Jason Carpenter was moving belongings from his waterlogged garage to dry ground. "I'm a little tired of the rain," he sighed.
A road crew was working to fill in the shoulder of the road, after sections of it, too, washed away. In some places, the damage to pavement was so bad, it forced the closure of the road. "We just got this fixed up not too long ago, now we're going through it all over again," said Al Ward, an excavation contractor working on the road.
Ward was remembering rain-fueled flash floods that tormented Vermont a month ago, creating a severe enough disaster in parts of Chittenden County to qualify the area for federal aid.
Just a few weeks later, and more pounding rain is again causing problems. One of the busiest stretches of Interstate 89 South in Richmond will be down to one lane, likely for weeks, Vt. Transportation Secretary Brian Searles told New England Cable News.
Fast-moving runoff destroyed parts of the roadside and put the stretch at risk for more crumbling, Searles explained. "That interstate system is anywhere from 50 to 60 years old. Part of the problem we're having, notwithstanding the heavy rains, is we've got a road bed and so on that's pretty tired."
Searles noted that Vermont is currently undertaking a lengthy and expensive process of repairing bridges and culverts statewide. As for the more immediate work in the days and weeks ahead on I-89 and other roads, he urged patience with repairs. Searles also reminded drivers to slow down in the kind of heavy rain we've been getting. Ponding water on the roads creates a risk for hydroplaning and poor visibility, he advised. "It's the equivalent of black ice in the winter," Searles noted.
Searles said VTrans is bracing for even more possible damage in the coming days, with more heavy rain in the forecast. "The Agency of Transportation has been meeting all day today," he added. "We anticipate, according to weather forecasts, that we're going to have a heavy slug of rain Thursday into Friday and maybe beyond into the weekend. We already have saturated soils. We're getting our agency ready to meet the worst-case scenario."
As for Jason Carpenter, he told NECN he is eager for these summer storms to let up, so there's no more damage to roads like his. "If it gets any worse, you hope the crews can stay awake 24-7."