By Kara Herlihy
The National Weather Service has declared Washington County a disaster area following extensive flooding, including damage to roads in Moretown and Duxbury on August 2 and 3. That action paves the way for those towns to receive federal assistance for rebuilding several Class III and Class IV roads in Moretown and several in Duxbury.
The declaration was required before any federal relief funds from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) could be granted to repair the washed out roads. Among the most devastating damage was the complete washout of Moretown Mountain Road on August 2 and 3. The National Weather Service declaration covers damage that occurred from July 21 through August 12.
A meeting has been scheduled for this Friday, September 19, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Barre town offices where local officials can discuss federal assistance with FEMA personnel. Members of the Moretown Select Board plan to attend the informational session along with Duxbury road foreman David Quenneville.
Several other roads in Moretown incurred varied degrees of damage following the flooding including Jones Brook Road, Dickerson Road and Ward Brook Road.
The town's road crew along with engineers from Knight Engineering have been "going above and beyond" fixing the roads, according to Moretown Select Board member Stephanie Venema.
The town estimated that the damage inflicted on the roads as a result of the multiple landslides could reach as high as $500,000. The town currently has no funding set aside for emergencies of this magnitude, according to Venema.
At the board's August 18 meeting, members discussed repairing the roads to make them safe and passable versus a complete rebuild/redesign which would come at a much higher cost to the town. FEMA will reimburse the town up to the point that the roads are safe, and for no more, according to select board member Rae Washburn.
Venema said that representatives from Knight Engineering recommended repairing all of Dickerson Road at once (which already has some grant funding designated for repairs) instead of in sections.
"It would be cost prohibitive to do it in sections," she said in August. Venema added that the decision to repair the entire road was "agonizing" and will be quite costly.
The town of Duxbury incurred similar damage to several of their Class IV roads as a result of the August 3 flooding. Most of the damage was to Ward Hill Road where large sections washed downhill, leaving deep crevasses on both sides of the road, missing culverts and leaving hundreds of yards of road fill in a yard at the bottom of the hill.
Town Clerk Ken Scott said that the town is in the process of filing a claim with the state for federal relief funding. Scott estimates the cost to repair Duxbury's damaged roads to be around $100,000.
In addition to Moretown and Duxbury, there was extensive flooding in Hancock and Rochester on August 6, leading to the washout and closure of Route 125, bridge damage and other road damage.
In order to become eligible for federal emergency funding, the governor must declare a state of emergency, and the National Weather Service must determine that the state, or a portion of the state, is significantly threatened by a national disaster.