The following excerpt is from: Ice and Water: The Flood of 1992 - Montpelier, Vermont, Copyright 1992 "Ice and Water" Committee*

Wednesday, March 11, 1992

  • 6:57 a.m. - A large ice jam on the Winooski River breaks loose about the Pioneer Street Bridge and travels through Montpelier. Ice jams just below the Bailey Avenue Bridge and dams the river.
  • 7:05 a.m. - Filled with rain and snowmelt, the Winooski begins to overflow its banks along State Street and the North branch begins backing up onto Elm Street.
  • 7:15 a.m. - Water surges dramatically into low-lying areas behind Main and State Streets, floating propane tanks from moorings, flooding parked cars and inundating store basements.
  • 7:23 a.m. - Radio stations are notified of a flood emergency as 1st warnings are issued.
  • 7:45 a.m. - Icy flood waters hit the steam heating boiler at MacPherson's Travel on Main Street and the boiler explodes, shattering the glass storefront and destroying the basement.
  • 7:56 a.m. - Two to 3 feet of water is reported in front of Days Inn on State Street where an estimated 100 people are stranded. Flood waters pout onto Main Street, stalling cars and making the road impassable. Backed-up water from the swollen North Branch flows upstream on Elm Street.
  • 8:09 a.m. - Evacuations begin of hundreds of stranded residents, workers and state employees on Main, State and Elm Street. Some wade to safety, while others are taken out by boat or by fire engines and dump trucks.
  • 8:30 a.m. - Governor Howard Dean declares a state of emergency in the capital and closes state offices. The National Guard is called in to assist, and state police, game wardens and other public safety crews begin arriving to help in the disaster.
  • 8:46 a.m. - A Red Cross emergency shelter is set up at the gymnasium at Vermont College.
  • 9 a.m. to noon - Human chains of volunteers work successfully in frigid waters to save historic documents stored in the basement of the Pavilion Building. On Main Street, similar efforts rescue about 18,000 children's books from the basement of Kellogg-Hubbard Library and thousands of videotapes in the basement of the Savoy Theater.
  • 10:07 a.m. - Power crews shut off electricity in downtown Montpelier because of high fire and explosion hazards from leaking fuel oil and propane. Many telephone lines are out. About 200 buildings in the downtown area are flooded.
  • 3 p.m. - Backhoes and a crane move into place and begin dislodging the ice jam below Bailey Avenue Bridge.
  • 4:57 p.m. - After getting the ice flowing, a 2nd jam occurs, sending a surge of water back up into Montpelier to cause the worst flooding of the day.
  • 5:10 p.m. - The ice jam is knocked loose again, and begins moving downstream.
  • 5:17 p.m. - Huge ice chunks grinding downriver lift and twist half the trestle railroad bridge near Bailey Avenue off its foundation, leaving it perpendicular to the rest of the bridge and pointing downstream.
  • 5:31 p.m. - The last ice clears the Bailey Avenue Bridge, and flood waters rapidly drain from downtown.
  • 6:13 p.m. - Frigid weather and blowing snow descend as downtown Montpelier is cordoned off and a curfew is set. The city remains closed until noon, Saturday, March 14, as an army of workers, volunteers and municipal crews pump basements, remove more than 650 dump truck loads of debris and repair damage.