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Video: Heavy Rains Swamp Upper Valley; Hundreds Lose Power

  • The White River as seen in Royalton, Vt., on the afternoon of July 1, 2017. (Valley News - Maggie Cassidy) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission.



Saturday, July 01, 2017

Click here for an extended report and photographs in the Sunday Valley News.

Severe flooding throughout Thetford this evening has prompted the Red Cross to open a reception center at Thetford Elementary School for people evacuating from waterlogged areas.​ ​The school is located at 2689 ​Route 113 in Thetford Center. 

​The Red Cross says those who plan to stay in an evacuation shelter ​should bring ​their medication​s and ​the medical equipment​ they need​; extra clothing​; pillows​,​ blankets​ and ​sleeping bags​; ​hygiene supplies​; a ​flashlight with extra batteries​; ​basic snacks​;​ ​and ​identification​ and ​insurance papers​.​

Evacuees also should bring special items for children and infants, as well as disabled or elderly family members. Prohibited items include illegal drugs, alcoholic beverages, weapons and pets other than service animals.

A series of heavy rain cells has traipsed across the region over the course of the day, dumping inch after inch of water on already waterlogged ground, canceling weekend events, sending cars and trucks sliding off roadways and knocking out power to hundreds of homes.

“What’s going on right now is called ‘training,’ ” Steve Maleski of the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury said in an interview this afternoon.

“Think of a series of boxcars on a train. …You’ve got individual cells of heavy rain, convective cells lined up.” When the north-south portion of the northeasterly wind is stronger than the east-west portion, cells line up and hit the same location, one after another, Maleski said.

“As a result you can lay down very heavy amounts of rain in a very short time,” he said.

National Weather Service observations at Lebanon Municipal Airport pegged this morning’s rainfall at about an inch over the span of two hours.

Vehicles slid off the road on both interstates, including a tractor-trailer resting partly on the median off I-89 South between Quechee and Sharon.

Athletic events and Fourth of July weekend celebrations were canceled around the region; in Strafford, a suite of events for children held by the local parent-teacher association — including a popular frog-jumping contest — were called off, although the annual parade went forward anyway.

Things had cleared up by 1:30 p.m., and the sun shone through the clouds. But a few hours later, another cell rolled through, dumping another third of an inch between 4 and 5 p.m. — and another inch in the hour after that.

The weather took a toll on transportation and power networks.

Flooding covered roads all over the Upper Valley, including in downtown Lebanon, in rural Norwich and along Route 113, which passes through West Fairlee, Vershire and Thetford. In Tunbridge, flooding was seen along Route 110.

In Lebanon, Route 4 is closed between LaPlante Road and Moulton Avenue, according to an alert sent by city officials about 8 p.m. this evening.

In White River Junction, resident Steve Thomas was blocked by water covering North Main Street as he tried to leave town.

After he took a detour via Sykes Mountain Avenue, he saw a “huge swath of dirty, heavily flowing water” pouring out of the woods near the Listen Furniture Store.

“There’s a river of water coming out of the woods and coming through the Listen Center parking lot and running down Route 5,” he said.

Around 5 p.m., Green Mountain Power reported outages at 54 households in Hartford, 80 in Norwich, 140 in West Fairlee, 147 in Vershire and, among many other locations, a whopping 1,139 in Thetford.

At the same time, 622 Eversource customers were without power in Lyme.

Later in the evening, the American Red Cross in New Hampshire and Vermont announced it would activate its emergency operations in both states in response to National Weather Service warnings of severe storms, “possible flash flooding” and “rare tornadic activity.”

Posted at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Updated at 8:50 p.m. Find a full report in the SUNDAY VALLEY NEWS.