Home News and Features Central Vermont Prepares for Flooding, Again

Central Vermont Prepares for Flooding, Again

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River overtaking its banks alongside paved road with guard rail and snow in foreground.
Water started to jump the banks of the North Branch River on Route 12 just below Worcester village at 1 p.m. Monday Dec. 18. Photo by Carla Occaso.
The regular ping of “VT Alerts” coming through cell phones, which characterized the days and hours during the July 10, 2023 catastrophic flood in central Vermont, started happening again on Monday, Dec. 18. Just five months since the July floods, the cities of Barre and Montpelier are again warning residents to prepare for flooding.

“The city of Montpelier is actively out monitoring the rivers and flood conditions … The National Weather Service has just upgraded Montpelier’s flood risk significantly. They now predict a Winooski peak of 16.8 feet, which is above the 15-foot flood level. The prior projection had been 9.7 feet. The July flood was around 20 feet,” stated a press release from the city emailed to residents at 12:06 p.m.

Additionally, the city has closed the 60 State Street parking lot until further notice and is working with the Montpelier Police Department to relocate cars. The emailed release from City Manager William Fraser also requested people move vehicles as soon as possible from the State Street lot, and “please move your vehicle to higher ground.”

A resident of Barre told The Bridge he received an automated phone call saying The Barre Auditorium is available for shelter “TBD,” and if people arrive before the Red Cross does, “just hang out in the basement.”

Roxbury students bussed to the Montpelier Roxbury Public Schools were turned around and sent back to Roxbury almost as soon as they arrived Monday morning. An email from Libby Bonesteel, superintendent of schools, said all Roxbury families should plan to pick up their students at the Roxbury Village School by 9:30 a.m. “Due to anticipated flooding that is about to cover Route 12A and continued significant rain in the forecast.” 

By 12:19 p.m., a notice went out via VT Alerts that Route 12A in Roxbury at the train underpass south of the village is closed to all traffic due to flooding. “Seek an alternate route,” the alert stated.

Just before 12 p.m., Bonesteel notified Montpelier families that “I was just updated by Chief Nordenson. Out of an abundance of caution, he has asked us to get kids home early. Roads around town are beginning to show evidence of flooding. We know from previous experience with this amount of rain that conditions on the ground can change quickly and we want to make sure all kids can get home safely.”

A Montpelier resident notified The Bridge that Sparrow Farm Road was starting to wash out and “cratering” this morning.

The city of Montpelier also canceled the Design Review Committee and Development Review Board meetings scheduled for tonight “due to the flooding in Washington County.” Applications on those agendas will be heard on Jan. 2, 2024, instead.

And in Waitsfield, a VT Alert went out in the morning that “officials from the town of Waitsfield are requesting that all residents stay home, limit travel, and stay away from roadways due to flooding. Please contact 802-496-2218 for more information.” Moretown too, has closed roads from Stevens Brook Road to Freeman Hill Road due to flooding, according to an alert that came in at 12:46 p.m.


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