Central Vermont experienced heavy rainfall, leading to evacuations, rescues and road closures

A man in a "Berlin Fire Department" shirt walks across a bridge towards vehicles with colorful lights during dusk.
Police and firefighters check a bridge on the Stevens Branch in Berlin to make sure no debris is trapped as rain battered the central part of the state on Wednesday, July 10. Photo by Natalie Williams/VTDigger

According to the National Weather Service, between 3 and 4 inches of rain fell in a three-hour period Wednesday night across parts of central Vermont, flooding several communities in the region, including Barre City, Williamstown, Plainfield and Moretown.

Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon declared a state of emergency in his city around 9:30 p.m. after officials rescued about a dozen people from flooded homes and cars, he said. With water rushing into the flood-prone city, Barre closed several roads in the city center and urged people to stay away if possible. It was also preparing to issue a boil-water warning, according to Barre City Manager Nicolas Storellicastro.

“The next three hours are going to be pretty critical for us. I wouldn’t say it’s a repeat of ’23,” Lauzon said, referring to the devastating floods of last July, “but it’s very serious.”

“I hate to say it, but right now we’re just at the mercy of Mother Nature,” he said.

Robert Haynes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Burlington office, said some areas in central Vermont getting rain are getting as little as 1.5 inches an hour — and in some cases they got twice that amount Wednesday night. After a brief respite, he said, those areas can expect another couple of inches around 10 or 10:30 p.m.

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In addition to Barre, Williamstown also had evacuations ordered Wednesday night, Vermont Emergency Management spokesman Mark Bosma said. And Haynes said residents of Moretown Village were asked to evacuate.

According to Bosma, at least two shelters have opened for those left homeless by the flooding: at the Barre Auditorium and Williamstown Middle/High School.

This story is being updated.

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