The southeastern Vermont town of Putney is expecting repairs to take weeks or even longer following damaging storms Thursday night. Meanwhile, residents are being asked to report flood damage.
Two inches of rain fell in many southern Vermont communities. Some, including Putney, tallied 4.5 or 5.5 inches in just a few hours, according to regional weather data.
In a post on its Facebook page the town of Putney listed more than a dozen roads throughout the community that were seriously impacted. Water chewed away shoulders or tore apart culverts, even washing away large chunks of road entirely.
In an earlier Facebook post, the town noted repairs could take days or weeks in some locations, and in one spot, even longer.
River Road in Putney was among the hardest-hit spots in the Windham County community.
Joe Flynn, the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, toured Putney Friday.
Flynn pointed to a destroyed culvert at the bottom of a gully left when River Road washed out. He said he strongly suspects that culvert became clogged with debris and then overwhelmed by backed-up water — leading to the massive washout.
“The power of water is an awesome force,” Flynn observed in an interview with NECN. “And once enough of it is built up, it really doesn’t care what’s in its way. It’s going to go through it or going to go around it. And enough force? It’s only going to be a matter of time until something lets go. And this is really what we saw here.”
Rep. Mike Mrowicki, D-Putney, wrote on Facebook that people who have needs related to flooding should call 2-1-1, but should call 9-1-1 if they are experiencing an emergency.
Mrowicki added that reports of flood damage to 2-1-1 are important, writing, “it helps identify the full scale and nature of immediate and long-term recovery needs.”
In a Facebook post, AJ Cable, who identified himself as a member of the fire service, discouraged people from checking out the area’s severe damage in-person. The post urged people to not go around cones or barriers, explaining that road surfaces are so weak in some spots, they could crumble under your feet.
“The response has been extraordinary,” said Simi Ravven of Putney, praising emergency officials, first responders, town employees and neighbors who lent helping hands.
Ravven said she was stuck at home Friday morning while her road was impassable — until town crews could make an emergency fix.
“A friend gave our daughter a ride to camp,” the resident told NECN. “We walked her down and my husband carried her across the river with high boots and popped her in my friend’s car. Another friend texted me at 6:30 this morning—‘Do you need anything?’ Everyone’s been doing that for each other.”
Flynn said his agency, Putney town officials, and Vermont Emergency Management will be closely collaborating in the coming weeks as the community recovers from the impacts from the powerful storm.
Town and state officials are still assessing the scope of the damage, so there is no word yet on a price tag or a more specific timeline for all repairs. However, it is clear from the gaping hole in River Road that it’ll be a complex job.