Out Like a Lamb? End of March Brings Localized Spring Flooding in Vt.

(NECN: Jack Thurston, Brandon, Vt.) - The combination of melting snow and rain in some spots Sunday caused localized flooding in several Vermont communities. In Brandon, Vt., high water closed a pair of roads. The town's public works department said there was just nowhere for melting snow to go, between the frozen ground and overwhelmed storm drains, which crews were checking on Monday.

"The trouble is a lot of these systems that you find, especially the storm water collection systems, are of such an age that the pipe sizes aren't big enough to handle the amount of moisture and the flow that we're having now," explained Brian Sanderson, the director of the Brandon Public Works Dept.

An ice jam Sunday in Williamstown, Vt. forced the temporary closure of Route 14 for minor flooding in the village of Williamstown, according to a media alert from the Vt. State Police.

In Bristol, standing water formed ponds in front yards, as residents prepared themselves for the likelihood of a bad mud season while melting continues.

For a few weeks now, meteorologists have been explaining what the ideal conditions would be to avoid damaging flooding like what sections of Vermont saw in the spring of 2011. "A gradual warm-up with no rain or heavy rain combined with that warm-up to allow for the snow pack to flow down into the lower elevations," Jason Neilson of the National Weather Service told New England Cable News last week, describing the best-case scenario to avoid worse flooding.

Vt. Emergency Management officials said while flooding is minor and localized now, if it gets worse, you should remember basic safety precautions, like never walk or drive across a flooded road.

Here are more flood safety tips, from the website of Vermont’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security:
•    Know the terms used to describe flooding:

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

•    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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