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No Injuries After Claremont Home Walloped by Avalanche

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 1/24/2019 10:29:01 PM
Modified: 1/24/2019 10:29:13 PM

Claremont — James Desilets was preparing to make a sandwich in his kitchen on Thursday afternoon when he looked out the back window and thought he saw the snow on the hill behind his house move a little.

Seconds later, the snow let loose and rushed down the hill, crashing into Desilets’ back deck and house at 259 Chestnut St.

“It came down really fast, like a rocket,” Desilets said by phone last night. “It was over in the blink of an eye.

“I told my dog to get in the other room, grabbed hold of the table and said a prayer.”

Desilets, who was not injured, estimates the snowslide was about 50 feet wide and 100 yards long, leaving a large bare area on the hill surrounded by snow.

“I have lived here 30 years and never had that happen.”

The slide left mounds of snow on the deck and around the house, mixed in with debris that was in the slide’s path. The fire department arrived and diverted water around to the front of the house.

The force and weight of the heavy, wet snow, which Desilets believes was pushed off the hill by Thursday’s heavy rains, blew out four basement windows and dumped snow inside, smashed deck railings and destroyed a grill on his deck, dragged his small pickup down the driveway and destroyed his dog house.

“My poor dog doesn’t have a house now,” said Desilets, who was in good spirits despite the damage to his house.

The good news is the house is still habitable and Desilets, who is retired and lives alone, said he has insurance.

On Thursday evening, Desilets was busy closing up the windows and getting heat in the basement to melt the snow.

“I’m all right, and everything is going to be OK, as long as we don’t have a mudslide,” he said with a laugh.

Desilets wasn’t the only one dealing with a deluge. Hartford town officials said River Street in Quechee was closed on Thursday evening due to flooding in the roadway.

“The Hartford Highway Department advised that the (Ottauquechee) river is very high near Quechee Main St. / Marshland Farms and they may close the roadway if water rises further. Plan accordingly, and do not drive on flooded roadways,” the town said in a Facebook post.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

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