Home News and Features Flood Ravaged Roads, Property in Berlin

Flood Ravaged Roads, Property in Berlin

Flood-damaged items piled outside one of the homes in the Berlin Mobile Home Park on July 22. Photo by John Lazenby

Last month’s flood destroyed 34 Berlin mobile homes, flooded several commercial properties in Berlin on the Barre-Montpelier Road, and caused about $500,000 in road damage, according to  Acting Town Administrator Ture Nelson.

A major culvert was washed out on Paine Turnpike between Fisher Road and the State Police barracks that will cause the road to be closed for an extended time, Nelson said. A total of 17 roads in Berlin needed repair due to the flood, he said.

At the Berlin Mobile Home Park, 28 homes have been condemned by the state, while six mobile homes were condemned at River Run Manor, Nelson said. Condemnation may help the owners get faster and larger awards from FEMA.

Kathy Smith of Bolton sorts through flood damage in her mother’s house at the Berlin Mobile Home Park on July 22. Photo by John Lazenby
Flood damage was minimal at Weston’s Mobile Home Park on Route 12 in Berlin, which was hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene. Many of the mobile homes there had been raised a bit higher after Irene, Nelson said.

On the Barre-Montpelier Road, the overflowing Stevens Branch “created parking lot damage and physical damage, and destroyed fixtures and inventory,” Nelson said.

All of the stores in the Big Lots shopping plaza were badly flooded with up to four feet of water. The stores there include Big Lots, JoAnn Fabrics, Bouchard-Pierce appliances, Advance Auto Parts, Fringe Salon, Mattress Firm, Snap Fitness, and China Moon Buffet. Workers were busy clearing out those stores last week.

At least one store, Bouchard Pierce, will not open in the same location. An employee at the firm’s Essex location said it was unknown whether another central Vermont branch would be opened at some time in the future.

Nelson said other commercial properties on the Barre-Montpelier Road that were flooded included Thomas Hometown at the old Sears location (they are open again now), and Formula Nissan, which saw cars damaged. In addition, several single-family homes scattered around town were flooded and suffered basement and foundation issues, Nelson said.

Tom Badowski, Berlin’s assistant town administrator and zoning administrator, said property owners who were flooded will have to follow the same national flood rules that have been an issue of public discussion in Montpelier. In essence, owners of flooded properties replacing any destroyed heating system or electrical panel have to install replacements above the local flood elevation level.

“For property owners to participate in the national flood insurance program, new town flood regulations had to be adopted,” he said. Berlin adopted its rules in 2019. Badowski said his sense was that many commercial properties had already moved heating and cooling systems above flood elevation level.

Berlin is working on a plan to build a new town center on land near the Berlin Mall, property that is not subject to flooding. Nelson said the town is “pursuing the plan 100%, even more now after this flood.”

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