Flood Threat Looming Over Vt.

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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Waterbury, Vt.) - The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for most of Vermont, with flood warnings in place for sections of the Northeast Kingdom and Connecticut River Valley. Warnings are in place for Barton River in Coventry, Vt., and for the Connecticut River near Lunenburg, Vt., and Dalton, N.H., according to the National Weather Service. That warning affects both Essex County of Vt. and Coos County of N.H.

Elsewhere in Vermont, some properties near rivers or in lowlands are already waterlogged, after a rapid thaw following a long winter. The situation could be worsening. There is still snow on the ground in many places, and more of it in the mountains. With temperatures roaring into the 70s and even 80s in some places Monday, a lot of that snow is melting very quickly. Plus, meteorologists have called for an inch of rain in the forecast, possibly more in some sections, leading many to keep an eye on the state's rivers.

"It seems like every spring, we have some sort of combination that makes it bad for one area or another," remarked Mark Bosma, of Vermont Emergency Management.

Bosma said Emergency Management plans to open a response command center at its Waterbury headquarters Tuesday night. He explained the center will provide communities information and support if the rain and snow melt add up to trouble. "Even if it's one area, that's a major impact to that town," Bosma said.

Vermonters are already preparing. At the demolition site of the state office complex in Waterbury, knocked offline in 2011 by Tropical Storm Irene's flash flooding, PC Construction has a state-mandated evacuation plan in place, if the nearby Winooski River rises again and threatens the job.

"You just want to be ready and aware," said Jay Fayette of PC Construction. "The protocols in this plan really require us to do certain things, which is, get the equipment out of the way, get the fuels out of the way, so they're not washing down the river. Oils, solvents-- we're clearing the 100-year flood plain of those materials."

The city of Montpelier has warned businesses and homeowners with flood-prone basements to get ready for likely water problems Tuesday night into Wednesday. The city asked folks to remove items from basements and consider the possibility of electrical dangers.

Vermont Emergency Management has posted the following information about flooding on its website:

•    Know the terms used to describe flooding:

o    Flood Watch - Flooding is possible. Watches are issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) 12 to 36 hours in advance of a possible event.
o    Flash Flood Watch - Flash Flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground. A Flash Flood could occur without warning.
o    Flood Warning - Flooding is occurring, or will occur soon. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
o    Flash Flood Warning - A flash flood is occurring. Seek higher ground immediately and stay away from streams and creeks.

•    If you ever encounter flood waters NEVER attempt to walk or drive through them.
•    Monitor Media reports.
•    Ask local officials whether your property is in a flood-prone or high-risk area. Flood plain maps are available at most town offices or city halls.
•    Listen to local and state Public Safety officials and respond to their directives in a prompt manner.
•    Know your best flood evacuation routes, potential Public Shelters, and where to find high ground. In a flash flood, you may need to seek high ground on foot quickly.
•    Install 'check valves' in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains in your home.
•    Ensure your home is ready. Where possible, minimize damage from basement flooding by elevating utilities and materials that could be damaged by limited basement flooding.
•    Anchor fuel tanks to ensure that they do not wash away, creating a safety and environmental issue inside or outside the home.
•    Develop a Family Emergency Kit.
•    Make a Family Communication Plan. Designate an out of state relative as a central point of contact.
•    Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before you evacuate. Know how to safely turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate.
•    Contact your insurance agent or local government to discuss flood insurance coverage. Flood losses are not covered under regular homeowner's insurance policies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP) through the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA). The NFIP makes flood insurance available in communities that adopt and enforce ordinances to reduce flood damage.

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