Road crews across all Valley towns continue to work to restore damaged and washed out roads following severe thunderstorms and flooding over the past two weeks.
Waitsfield was the hardest hit by a powerful, localized thunderstorm on May 20 that produced one-inch hail, heavy rains and flooding. The town lost 35 culverts and 14 roads and saw significant road damage and washouts in some cases. The total damage estimate is $400,000. Until FEMA funds are allocated, the select board voted to access a $500,000 line of credit to complete necessary repairs.
Town Administrator Valerie Caples said, “Work on Joslin Hill will continue today. Area contractors have been enlisted to help, including Griffin & Griffin, Fred Viens, and Kingsbury. Munson Earthmoving has also been hired to help with the Tremblay and North Road restoration. There will be an incident command team meeting this afternoon at 4 here at the Town Office and I expect to get more updates then.”
According to Vermont Emergency Management, the process of obtaining financial assistance from the federal government from late April and early May flooding is ongoing.
“Vermont completed its part of the process Friday when Governor Peter Shumlin sent a formal request to President Barack Obama for a disaster declaration. The process of approving such a request can take one week to several weeks,” according to the press release from VEM.
Joslin Hill Road was closed to traffic on Tuesday, May 31, for repair. The speed limit on Tremblay Road, North Road, Joslin Hill Road and the lower portion of East Warren Road was reduced to 15 mph.
“Repair on area roads continues to be prioritized to ensure emergency access and accommodate bus routes. Repairs on other impacted roads will occur as soon as possible. Access on Floodwoods Road remains limited to residents on that road only. In some areas, such as Rolston Road and Ski Valley Acres, subsequent storms caused additional damage,” Capels added.
A review of the town’s curb cut policy clarifies that property owners are responsible for maintaining driveways and driveway culverts.
The town of Duxbury sustained damage estimated to cost in excess of $1 million after the April 26 storm; the select board called an emergency meeting on May 2 to assess the damage.
Town Road Foreman Steve Manosh told town officials on May 9 that the road crew has been busy cleaning up debris following the flood. He said that River Road will need significant work on the ditches and culverts particularly; culverts need to be cleared of debris and road material.
The first estimate for repair of the road and culvert washout on Crossett Hill came in at $475,000, according to the May 9 select board minutes. The town plans to seek out state and federal money to cover the expense, at least in part.
FEMA and VTrans representatives met with town officials to tour the damaged sites on May 10. Estimates for all of the work are currently being compiled and will be submitted to the state and FEMA to gauge what kind of reimbursement the town will be eligible for.
Capels continued, “I received a report of apparent vandalism over the weekend to the cones marking the damaged sections of roads. It appears someone intentionally moved, removed, and/or drove over numerous cones leaving dangerous areas exposed without warnings. Motorists are reminded to reduced speeds on storm-damaged roads to help prevent further damage and to safely navigate one-lane conditions.”
Select board members in Duxbury discussed addressing the flood repair expenses as a special line item in the town budget. The details as to how the repairs will be covered have yet to be determined.
VEM urges homeowners affected by the floods to have heating and electrical systems inspected, clean up right away to prevent mildew, contact insurance carriers, keep close records of how much it costs to clean up the home, and report all damages and losses to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Property owners are urged to check the condition of their driveway culverts to ensure water and debris can pass through in the event of additional storms.
According to Capels, aid to individuals, private homeowners, business owners, renters and others is more difficult to come by and Vermont has not qualified for so-called “individual assistance” since 2002. However, individual assistance was included in the request submitted by Governor Shumlin this week.
Filing an IA declaration, the most likely alternative could be Small Business Administration loans (www.sba.gov/taxonomy/term/99). The funds are advertised as below-market interest rate loans used to help individuals recover. They would be made available to homeowners, business owners, some nonprofits and renters to recoup uninsured flood losses.