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Hurricane Irene Info
and Updates


 (U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers)

1:00 P.M., Monday, August 29, 2011
William J. Fraser, Montpelier City Manager

This will be the final update related to Tropical Storm Irene.

The City of Montpelier escaped serious damage from Irene. Despite the heavy rains and high river levels, flooding impact was no worse than the May flood. The early warning and advanced preparation allowed both businesses and the City government to mitigate losses effectively.

Downtown Montpelier is open for business today. Most, if not all, shops are open, virtually all roads are open. It’s a beautiful day and people are out and about.

The Winooski river crested at 19.05 feet at around 10:00 PM last night. This was the highest river level since 1927 when it hit an unthinkable 27 feet. Nonetheless, there was no discernible difference in flooding from the May event.

The city did not ever sustain high winds of the hurricane or tropical storm level. As a result, there were no downed trees or power lines and we did not experience any power outages.

The volume of rain was substantial but did not fall with the same force as May. Therefore we have no major road washouts or closed roads. Gallison Hill Road was closed yesterday but is expected to be reopened today.

There is a lot of river mud and silt in the downtown, particularly in the State Street and Bailey Avenue area. This will be cleaned up today, in the meantime please exercise caution if driving through it as it can be quite slippery.

The city has no reports of any permanent residential relocation or loss of housing. All people who were evacuated and temporarily sheltered are back in their homes.

Many downtown buildings have flooded cellars. Those are being pumped out and the basements evaluated for safety.

People interested in volunteering to assist with clean up can contact Montpelier Alive at 223-9604. At this time its not clear what services might be needed but they will be happy to take your name and contact information.

There never was any issue with Green Mountain Power and the discharge of the Marshfield dam. As stated in earlier reports, GMP was in constant contact with the city and never did discharge any water from the dam.

Generally, all public infrastructure – water, sewer, roads etc. – is open and operating without problem. Montpelier is very fortunate compared to some of our fellow Vermont communities.

I’d like to thank community members and business owners for their cooperation and diligence. I thank GMTA for their assistance in transporting people to the shelter in Barre, the Keene, NH, swift water rescue team for their presence and Green Mountain Power for working closely with the city. I thank all the citizens who followed these updates and offered comments and asked questions. Finally, I thank all of the incredibly dedicated Montpelier city employees who worked around the clock all weekend to keep everything functioning and safe.

12:00 A.M., Monday, August 29, 2011
William J. Fraser, Montpelier City Manager

Things are in a bit of a holding pattern. The River reached a peak of 19.05 feet and has receded back to 18.8 feet at this time. This does not necessarily mean that it has crested although that is possible. We are expecting to be hit with the backlash of the storm which might mean another inch of rain over the next couple of hours. That will impact the river level.

I just completed a tour of the flooded areas. There does not appear to be much additional flooding from what has been previously reported. Overall we do not expect conditions to get worse. Water will slowly begin receding into the morning.

One correction from an earlier report – Elm Street is closed from School to Spring but is open from State to School. All other road closings are as reported.

As of this time, Green Mountain Power has not yet released water from the Marshfield dam although we understand that they may need to do so soon. It takes six hours for the water to travel from Marshfield to Montpelier so, under any circumstances, water from the dam would arrive well after the rivers have crested.

Barring any unexpected situation, this will be the last report until morning.

9:00 P.M., Sunday, August 28, 2011
William J. Fraser, Montpelier City Manager

Things are progressing almost exactly as predicted at 5:30. The National Weather Service continues to project cresting of 20 feet by 2 AM. This will put water over all downtown streets although it is difficult to project exactly how deep it will get.

Flooding is apparent in many areas throughout downtown. Right now the flooding pattern is very similar to the May flood. State Street is closed from Taylor Street on. The Bailey Avenue bridge is completely blocked by water on both sides. Montpelier High School is inaccessible. 60 State Street parking lot is full of water. Elm Street is closed between State and Spring and under a lot of water. The Dog River Recreation Field is completely submerged. The river level is still rising.

Rain has eased up, winds are expected to increase. There have been no power outages reported and the wastewater treatment plant has continued to function properly.

Flood water is not safe. Do not walk, wade, swim or otherwise go into the water. It is filled with contaminents, silt and other unhealthy substances. I just came back from touring the city and was taken aback by how many people, included young people accompanied by parents, were walking in the flood waters. It is dangerous. Stay out.

Similarly, roads are barricaded for safety reasons. I observed many drivers going around barricades simply because they either wanted to look more closely or go somewhere that was closed off. These roads are closed for your protection. We do not wish to use police resources enforcing this but will if necessary.

5:30 P.M., Sunday, August 28, 2011
William J. Fraser, Montpelier City Manager

Conditions continue to worsen drastically. The National Weather Service just informed city officials that a 2 AM to 4 AM crest of 18 feet is very likely and could rise as high as 20 feet. This represents major flooding in the downtown area. The May flood, in comparison, crested at 17.5 feet.

Lower State Street is now closed and is covered with water. Low lying areas are starting to take on water. Evacuation orders are being issued for lower State Street and 87-89 Elm St. People will be temporarily located at City Hall until they can be safely transported to the Barre Auditorium.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of staying off the roads. There are far too many people driving out there. A major emergency is on the horizon in Montpelier and is already occurring in other communities in the region.

5:00 P.M., Sunday, August 28, 2011
William J. Fraser, Montpelier City Manager

Conditions have worsened since the last update. Montpelier is up to 4 inches of rain already with 1-2 inches more to come. Rain is expected to remain heavy for the next one to two hours and then taper off very quickly. High winds will continue for 3-4 hours after the rain stops.

Flooding in the Winooski is a virtual certainty. National Weather Service projections now range as high as 18 feet which exceeds the May levels. Other projections put as at about the same level as May.

The river is currently at 11 feet which is called action stage. If they haven’t already, basements will begin flooding at any time. We expect to reach flood stage in the next 2 hours with the crest occurring between 2 AM and 4 AM. Water is likely to remain above flood stage until mid day on Monday.

Gallison Hill Road is now closed at the section where the culvert washed out in May. Some signs of washout and culvert failures are showing on North Park Drive, Terrace Street and Taplin Street. In general, storm drain systems are beginning to be overwhelmed and backing up city wide.

With increasing washouts and drain backups, vehicular travel is getting more unsafe. Please stay off of the roads. We have observed much more traffic than we would expect in severe storm conditions.

2:41 P.M., Sunday, August 28, 2011
William J. Fraser, Montpelier City Manager

Most recent information from National Weather Service is that Irene, now classified as a Tropical Storm, will likely track directly over Central Vermont. Current forecast is for rain to continue until 7:00 PM. There may be one additional burst of very heavy rain between now and then. High winds are expected to continue until 10 PM. Total rainfall is projected at about 4 inches, less than originally forecast.

Current modeling shows the Winooski River reaching the 15 foot flood stage between 7 PM and 8 PM, cresting at approximately 17 feet at around 2 AM on Monday and falling back below flood stage by noon on Monday. National Weather Service will update the river modeling based on actual rainfall information. As a comparison, the river crested at 17.59 feet during the May flood.

Gallison Hill Road is being evaluated for likely closure. All other roads are open, no trees are down and no power outages are reported.

Governor Shumlin announced that non-essential state employees should report to work at 10 AM on Monday and that status will be updated by the State at 7:30 AM. State employees in the Capital Complex in Montpelier today are being asked to evacuate the area now.

All residential evacuation notices have been delivered.

12:22 P.M., Sunday, August 28, 2011
William J. Fraser, Montpelier City Manager

The City of Montpelier Incident Command Center and Emergency Operations Center opened at 8:00 AM. Precautionary evacuation notices have been served for Lower State Street and are in the process of being served in the Elm Street area.

The City has been notified by National Weather Service that the Winooski River is projected to exceed flood stage at some point after midnight. This forecast has not changed.

All residents and businesses are urged to take all flood precautions including clearing basements, turning off power and evacuating if necessary. It will be much easier and safer to do this now during daylight before the worst of the storm hits and before flooding has actually started.

The following is from the National Weather Service:

At this point, it looks like the projected forecast we have had the last couple of days is unfolding as planned (which is both good and bad news). So it's time to buckle up and get ready for today's bumpy ride.

Irene just made landfall near NYC --- and it will accelerate northeast across western CT, western MA and up the Connecticut River Valley by this evening. By Monday morning it will be long gone.

Rain has already overspread all but the Saint Lawrence Valley. Rainfall rates have been averaging up to 1/2" per hour, and totals in far southern Vermont are already over 2 inches. Looking at observations farther south, there has been a large area of rainfall amounts on the order of 5 to 7 inches, so our forecast appears to be on track. Lesser amounts will fall across the Saint Lawrence Valley.

The only slight modifications to the forecast have been to shift the heavy rain slightly west, so even the eastern side of the Adirondacks (Clinton, Essex counties) will get in the heavy rainfall.

The rain will be coming to an end late this evening across far southern Vermont, and a little after midnight across northern Vermont & NY.

We expect flash flooding problems to occur just about anywhere in Vermont and in eastern portions of NY -- the main threat times would be from early afternoon through the evening hours.

No major changes to the river forecasts as well. Most rivers in Vermont will begin rising rapidly late this afternoon and evening -- and peaking into the moderate to major flood stage levels Monday morning.

With the updates to increase rainfall across Clinton & Essex counties, we will be getting new river forecast guidance later this morning -- but I would anticipate that this may result in additional rivers in that area going into flood tonight as well.

Looking farther ahead -- although rivers will fall below flood stage by late Monday, flows will remain high for several days. With expected sunny/dry weather, we will all need to get the message out that the rivers and streams are still dangerous.

Observations from locations from the Hudson Valley southward do indeed show a large area where winds are gusting near 50 mph. We still expect these winds to spread north over the next few hours -- with the strongest winds generally occurring from mid-afternoon through late evening. At that time we anticipate frequent wind gusts over 50mph, with maximum gusts over 60 mph across Lake Champlain -- the higher elevations and eastern sections of Vermont. Winds will initially be comgin from the northeast and turning north and eventually northwest by late evening as Irene moves by.

We expect Flash Flood Warnings to be issued across much of the area by early this afternoon, which would likely continue into the early overnight hours. River Flood warnings would probably be needed by this evening and continue through Monday.

8:30 P.M., Saturday, August 27, 2011
William J. Fraser, Montpelier City Manager

Hurricane Irene poses a significant threat to Montpelier. We expect flooding conditions similar to those experienced in May. Other dangers include high winds, power outages, washed out roads, downed power lines and trees and similar major storm damage.

Residents and businesses should assume flood conditions. People should NOT wait further notice from the City or State about imminent flooding. Basements prone to flooding should be emptied of merchandise or other valuable material. Given that it is not winter, furnaces and electrical service in basements should be turned off if possible.

Residents in flood prone areas, such as those evacuated in May, should consider relocating to for the next 48-72 hours. The regional Red Cross emergency shelter will be located at the Barre Auditorium however people are also urged to stay with friends and families before emergency evacuation becomes necessary. Montpelier City Hall and Berlin Elementary School will serve as interim locations (no food or sleeping accommodations) until people can be safely transported to Barre. Please note that, in the May flood, several routes between Barre and Montpelier were flooded or obstructed. Consider going to the shelter or elsewhere before the situation grows dangerous.

This emergency is occurring simultaneously from North Carolina to Maine. As such, regional safety resources will be stretched to the limit. Each community will be providing services with minimal to no assistance from federal, state or neighboring local governments. The City of Montpelier will be focusing on basic life safety and high priority responses. The City will not be able to provide general assistance such as pumping basements,tree removal or washout repair.

The storm is expected to hit on Sunday morning with the most rain and highest winds occurring between noon and midnight. Rivers are expected to reach flood stage by 3:00 AM on Monday morning. Citizens are urged to be in a safe place by noon on Sunday and to remain in that place until Monday. Driving will be extremely hazardous due to water on the road, live electrical wires, obstructions such as tree limbs and gravel and unexpected washouts. Please stay home.

To report information such as downed trees or washed out roads, please call City Hall at 223-9500, 223-9502 or 223-9504. Please do not call 9-1-1 unless you have a bona fide life safety emergency.

The City will have an emergency response team in place beginning on Sunday morning through the conclusion of any hurricane and flooding conditions. The City does not, however, have the resources to respond to all situations at all times. Please make your own preparations and take responsibility for your own safety.

Other information:

Do not drive into pooled water on the road. There could be a current and your car can stall.

Do not enter a basement filled with water. It could contain oil and other hazardous material, it could also be energized with live electricity.

Please conserve water use. The city expects to be able to provide continual water supply. However it is possible that the sewer treatment plant could flood. It is important to minimize the amount of water flowing to the sewer plant.

The 60 State Street parking lot will be closed on Sunday morning. All vehicles will be removed from that lot. That is the lowest spot in downtown and extremely vulnerable to flooding.

Empty sand bags are available at the DPW garage on Dog River Road. People will be responsible for filling the bags themselves. Sand bags should be used to divert running water, they are not effective barriers for preventing water from entering buildings.

Vermont Emergency Management will be providing general storm information. Montpelier specific information will be regularly posted on the City website, facebook page and twitter account and also shared with media outlets. Radio Station WDEV (96.1 FM, 550 AM) is providing 24 hour storm coverage. If power is lost, tune into WDEV with a battery powered radio to get storm updates. The City will update WDEV as necessary.

The City of Montpelier has officially issued the preceding statement related to Hurricane Irene.

This statement is based upon information received from the National Weather Service and Vermont Emergency Management as well as the emergency response strategy developed by the City of Montpelier.

Hurricane Preparation Update
3:00 P.M., Saturday, August 27, 2011

Regional centers are being established for shelter and assistance since this storm will affect the entire state. The regional shelter in our area is the Barre Auditorium, and the Red Cross will be setting up facilities there for people to stay. If immediate shelter is needed in Montpelier, we will use City Hall until transportation can be arranged to the Barre shelter. Please keep in mind that if the downtown is flooded, you may not have access to City Hall - we will be sending regular updates.

In the event of any evacuation, Montpelier Police and Fire Department personnel will conduct the evacuations as needed after we have made public announcements.

DPW does have sandbags (empty, 10 to 20 per person) that are available to Montpelier property owners. However, any individuals requesting them will be responsible for filling and transporting them. They are to be used for redirecting moving water from flash flooding threats that can damage property.

At this point, we are preparing for the worst and continue to hope that Mother Nature will spare us the force of the storm.

Hurricane Storm Warning
1:21 P.M., Friday, August 26,2011

Predicted river levels could reach those that caused flooding in May. Early predicated water levels pose a significant threat and we are urging all residents and businesses to plan accordingly. Current timeframe of flooding would be Sunday night to Monday morning.

Information about Hurricane Irene:
Vermont Emergency Management:

At this time there are no active shelters, residents should Shelter in Place or make arrangements before the storm arrives.

FEMA Plan for Emergencies:

Hurricanes and tropical storm can bring flooding, flash floods and high winds. Extensive damage to tree and utility lines could cause considerable disruption to power and services.

Flash flood prone areas of the City may benefit from the early placement of sandbags to divert water.

State emergency management recommends all residents take the following storm precautions:

Prepare a disaster supply kit with emergency supplies (including but not limited to):
  • Flashlight with extra batteries;
  • Portable, battery-operated radio with extra batteries;
  • First Aid Kit and manual;
  • Emergency food and water supplies for three days;
  • Non-electric can opener;
  • Essential medicines for at least seven days;
  • Cash and credit cards;
  • Loose objects in your yard, such as toys and lawn furniture, need to be secured.
  • Check that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
  • Speak with neighbors about their emergency plans, and how you can help each other during a crisis.
  • Conserve water before the storm to reduce and burden on the system.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or sewage. The water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines
  • Do not drive into flooded areas.
  • Plan for extended periods of power outages.

Life safety is the priority of the City Of Montpelier and its employees.