Flood watch in Vermont as state marks anniversary of last year’s severe inundations

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CABOT, Vt. (AP) — A flood watch was declared for much of Vermont on Wednesday — the anniversary of last summer’s severe flooding — and also Thursday, with heavy rains in the forecast.

As Gov. Phil Scott and other officials discussed the recovery from last July’s flooding at a news conference Tuesday, the public safety commissioner warned about the upcoming weather.

“We are again preparing for potentially dangerous and damaging flooding,” Commissioner Jennifer Morrison said. “There is an eerie sense of deja vu right now.”

The state anticipates some flash flooding Wednesday and possibly some river flooding Thursday, she said.

“We hope that Mother Nature will be kind to us this year,” Morrison said. “But hope is not a plan, and right now we ask that all Vermont communities plan and prepare for potential impacts.”

Excessive runoff could lead to flooding of rivers, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone areas, according to the National Weather Service. There could also be flooding in areas of poor drainage and urban locations, the weather service said.

Morrison urged residents to charge devices, put batteries in flashlights, check on vulnerable neighbors, have an evacuation plan and sign up for the emergency warning service VT-ALERT.

“Do not drive through high water. Do not drive around ‘road closed’ signs. Please remember that flash flooding can have intense currents and that there can be debris and pollutants in the water,” Morrison said.

She also called on local officials and emergency management directors to assess the risks in their communities and over-communicate to residents and visitors.

“Just one example would be: Overnight camps and campgrounds may be vulnerable. Do you have communication with camp organizers? Do they have a plan? Do you know where they will be and evacuate to?”

Scott said that while the state has come far in recovering from last July’s flooding, the work is “far from over.” After Tropical Storm Irene ravaged the state in 2011, the last recovery project was finished 12 years later, he said.

“So it’s likely this recovery could take years, which means we have a long way to go getting people permanently housed, restoring floodplains, repairing damage and revitalizing communities,” Scott said.

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