By Cathy McCormack – The Associated Press
Located at the intersection of two highways in a small town in Vermont, the Marshfield Village Store has changed a little bit over the past few days as residents struggle to recover from the state’s historic floods. I’m here.
First, a store in Marshfield, about 45 miles (70 km) east of Burlington, the state’s largest city, was sheltered for about 30 people. By Friday, it had become a coveted freshwater distribution center and go-to place for supplies.
“If there are people who are not yet receiving the assistance they need, let us start making more formal announcements so that we can equip them, volunteer them, provide them with emergency medicine, and work on treatment. That’s where we are now,” said Michelle Eddleman McCormick, the store’s general manager.
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Earlier this week, storms brought up to two months’ worth of rain in parts of the region in a few days, more than when Tropical Storm Irene blew through in 2011, causing massive flooding. . Officials called this week’s floods the worst natural disaster in the state since the 1927 floods, and some say such storms show the effects of climate change.
Stephen Davol, 63, drowned Wednesday at his home in the central Vermont city of Barre, population about 8,500, said Mark Bosma, spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management. He urged people to continue to exercise caution when returning home and repairing the damage.
“The loss of a Vermonter is always heartbreaking, but especially this week,” Senator Peter Welch said in a statement.
It was the second flood-related death in the northeast this week from storms and massive flooding. The first was in upstate New York, where a woman was flooded in Fort Montgomery, a small community on the Hudson River about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of New York City.
President Joe Biden on Friday approved Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s request for a major disaster declaration to provide federal assistance.
Many communities have been in contact with Vermont crisis management officials, but state officials said Friday that about 20 to 30 of them have yet to hear back. The National Guard was dispatched to establish contact. The state also announced the opening of centers this weekend in the southern Vermont ski villages of Barre and Ludlow to help recover flood victims.
Most emergency shelters have been emptied, with fewer than 70 people remaining. The focus has shifted to providing food and water and repairing infrastructure, including dozens of closed roads. State officials estimated that 23 water treatment plants were flooded or discharged untreated sewage into waterways.
City official Brendan McNamara said most Ludlow residents were able to return to their homes and obtain electricity and water. All roads to the town, previously cut off by floods, are now passable.
However, many challenges remain. The post office and sewage treatment plant were heavily damaged. Major grocery stores and several restaurants were closed due to the damage. Instead, numerous pop-up pantries have emerged to serve fresh meals. This community center has acted as a redemption point for water, food and medicine donated by volunteers rushing into town.
“You can go up and down the street and see signs that say free food where you didn’t get hit. Come get it,” McNamara said. “So you can see that we have a great community.”
Farms were also hit hard after many growers endured a severe freeze in May.
Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tevetts said at a news conference that he expects this to “destroy a large portion of our produce and livestock feed.” “In this hilly state, where some of the most fertile agricultural land lies in river valleys, countless fields of corn, hay, vegetables, fruit, and pasture have been flooded and buried.”
He said it was too early to determine the amount of damage.
Scott and other officials praised the crowd for volunteering to help with the recovery effort.
The governor said he was “inspired by the thousands of Vermonters, businesses and organizations reaching out to help.” “We know we will need all the help we can get as we move towards recovery.”
About 5,200 people statewide as of Friday had signed up to help with relief efforts through the State Emergency Management Agency and online volunteer recruitment efforts, according to Server Vermont director Philip Colling.
“What we do doesn’t even begin to capture all the volunteers that are organized through local organizations, towns and informal networks. We encourage these local initiatives,” Kolling said.
Some volunteers drove cars for the Meal on Wheels charity, took people to medical facilities, and helped with general cleaning.
In Ludlow, Calcutta restaurants were preparing meals for first responders, volunteers and others in need. A large ballroom was equipped with cots, water and toiletries.
“We have a lot of work to do to get us back to normal,” said Michael Reyes, who works for the hospitality group that owns the restaurant.
The state is gearing up for more rain on Sunday and Tuesday.
“We don’t know how big some of these storms will be,” Scott said.
McCormack reported from Concord, New Hampshire. Contributed by Associated Press reporter Lisa Latke of Marshfield and Michael Casey of Boston.
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