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Flooding Update: Gov. Scott & Dr. Levine Warn VT of Current Health Risks (7.14.23)

Flooding Update: Gov. Scott & Dr. Levine Warn VT of Current Health Risks (7.14.23)

State of Vermont Flood Response & Recovery Press Conference - 7.14.23

Watch a recording of the press conference here.

Apply for FEMA disaster relief funds here.


Gov. Phil Scott, Vermont

  • Vermont made out better than expected with yesterday’s rain – Rutland area hit hard
  • State has its first reported & confirmed fatality in Barre
  • Actively moving on recovery work
  • Need to get homes and businesses dried out as quickly as possible to avoid other impacts (mold)
  • Monday – Sect Pete Budigege will visit VT to talk about rebuilding and recovering
  • President Biden approved Vermont's Major Disaster Declaration Friday morning which will open other significant federal resources to aid the state
  • “Inspired by thousand of Vermont, organizations, and businesses who have reached out to help.”
  • Impacted Vermonters will need all the help we can provide

Jennifer Morrison, Commissioner, VT Department of Public Safety

  • “Relieved last night’s storms didn’t bring the full force we expected.”
  • Response teams will stay on alert across the state
  • 202 rescue missions, over 100 evacuations as of Friday morning (7.14.23)
  • 14,000 power outages Thurs night, down to around 300 Friday (mostly in Rutland Co)
  • PLEASE think of neighbors who were hit hard Thursday night
  • VT is beginning the work of understanding the Federal Major disaster declaration – will open streams of support for Vermonters – More details coming soon
  • Numerous FEMA resources have BEEN on the ground (since early in the week)
    • 198 FEMA personnel as of Friday morning
  • Municipalities MUST communicate clearly your town’s needs to the EOC (food, water, etc)

Dr. Mark Levine, Commissioner, VT Department of Health

  • “Our willingness to take care of one another continues to inspire.  Vermonters give new meaning to resilience.”
  • It is okay to feel the emotional burden of this event – it’s okay - reach out to those who may be struggling and reach out to help
  • Guidance for staying safe & healthy
    • Follow municipal guidance on drinking water
    • If on a private spring, but in a flooded area – ASSUME your water is contaminated, do not use it until tested – FREE test kits from the state of VT
    • Boil water for 1 minute – don’t use water that is untested if it’s cloudy or full of sediment
    • Water safety
      • People and pets need to stay out of water after a flooding event
      • High water & currents can linger and carry debris several days after a storm
      • Bodies of water may be contaminated with micros, waste, and oil – can result in rashes, sore throats, diarrhea, and worse
    • Returning to home
      • Wait until officials say its safe, watch for powerlines, and damaged fuel tanks, leave if you smell natural gas (rotten eggs), keep electricity off if you were flooded
    • Check tetanus status if you’re cut by any metals while reentering homes
    • DON'T WASTE TIME OR MONEY testing for mold – if you flooded and your home/biz was closed for several days, ASSUME your home/building has mold – dry out the building and wear a mask or respirator (N95’s & gloves)
    • Clean hard surfaces with soap, soft fabrics should be thrown away
    • DO NOT eat or drink anything that has touched flood water, throw away foods – “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Anson Tebbetts, Commissioner, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets

  • "We’ve seen the images, we know the damage.  This tragedy follows on the heels of a hard freeze in May.  It’s clear the losses will be catastrophic.  Our farmers and producers will need help.”
  • Some of VT's more fertile farmland is found in river valleys – many pastures and fields were flooded
  • Vermont's growing season is already short - many crops will not be replanted and losses replaced
  • Many farmers will be at risk
  • This could impact our regional food system and our local food security
  • Farmers are cleaning up, continuing to prepare for fall and winter
  • Farmers & producers MUST document losses, farmers should contact their insurance agent
  • Farmers/producers visit VAAFM website & social for info & resources
  • What can the public do?
    • Support farmers, offer help with chores and errands, attend a farmers market, get online, and order a product
    • “Farmers love their land, but they’re hurting.  Let’s do our part to support them as they continue to work to take care of us and keep us fed.”

Joe Flynn, Secretary, VT Agency of Transportation

  • AOT – first response-related injury – sink hole opened under a truck and the driver sustained minor injuries and returned to work
  • I89 – paving happening Friday, restriction down to 1 land as that work happens
  • Amtrack Ethan Allen train SHOULD return to VT Fri Night, passenger travel SHOULD be restored soon
  • 19 state roads are fully closed, 9 are partially closed
  • 24 towns that still need to connect with the State EOC
  • 40 bridges inspected Thurs across the state (over 100 total inspected now)

Other Updates

  • State will be determining any extensions on taxes, billings, etc that can be approved – to ease the burden on Vermonters & VT biz’s
  • Preparing for the expected increase in unemployment fillings
  • (Same Harvey – FEMA) FEMA can support wage repayment as funding that would be provided to the state
  • Vermonters can NOW APPLY for FEMA assistance - now that the President has approved the Major Disaster Declaration
    • 30-day deadline to apply for funding/assistance
    • DO NOT delay repairs, do what you need to, to improve your situation
    • SAVE ALL RECEIPTS related to losses
  • Nat. Guard members are visiting communities who have not contacted state leaders, they will act as liaisons to have face-to-face contact with local leaders to assess needs (most of those ‘missed’ towns are in the Northwest part of the state that saw fewer impacts over the last week)
  • Personnel continue to monitor any impacts to landfills around the state to catch and fix slides, runoff, etc
  • Farm soils will be tested to ensure crops, grazing areas, and hay, are still safe for humans and animals
  • VAAFM is prepared to create another disaster declaration specific to Ag if the approved plan Friday isn’t enough to support Ag needs
  • Not lost on state leaders that this situation creates even more of a burden on Vermont's already taxed housing supply, state leaders will be laser-focused on getting as much housing online to support Vermonters as soon as possible
  • Wx outlook – “Vermonters must be vigilant and prepared for anything the weather brings.”
  • Dept of Health remains ready to support Vermonters as they deal with this
  • Typically respiratory illnesses are less active during the summer, which is a boon as people deal with this mess and folks are possibly in closer proximity to one another
    • MUST wear the necessary protective equipment while doing recovery work to avoid issues
  • No hospitals have met critical staffing issues (there was some worry about staffing when more roads were closed)

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