Damage to roads in Lamoille County may run into the millions of dollars from the Halloween storm that howled through the region.
More than 3 inches of heavy rain swelled rivers and brooks, and the gushing water undercut some roadways, left gaping holes in others and washed some away altogether. Roads were particularly hard hit in Cambridge, Johnson and Wolcott.
In Stowe, a woman was badly injured when a tree fell on her; she was in fair condition Wednesday at the UVM Medical Center in Burlington.
In Johnson, a fire that broke out during the floods left eight people homeless, but no one was hurt.
People who live in Eden couldn’t get into or out of town; roads all around it had flooded. On Facebook, people compared notes, wondering if some combination of back roads might have avoided destruction, and might offer a way to get to work — or back home.
Power lines were ripped down by winds and falling trees, though utility companies went all-out to restore electrical service quickly. Generators were a hot commodity.
Private contractors had to be hired all over the region to haul material needed to help road crews reopen washed-out roads.
The road through Smugglers Notch was high above any flooding, but a tractor-trailer truck got stuck on the narrow, winding road on Saturday, despite all the warning signs, and it snowed on Sunday, when the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department reported that several cars and motorcycles got stuck in the snow. That blocked one possible route for drivers facing washouts and road closures.
Injured in Stowe
In Stowe, Friday’s storm washed out roads, knocked out power for nearly 2,000 customers and sent at least one person to the hospital with serious injuries.
At 11:06 a.m., Stowe police, fire and rescue responded to 172 Thomas Lane where a tree had fallen and struck a woman.
With the assistance of chain-saw-wielding members of the Stowe Highway Department, emergency responders were able to extricate Mariah Mitchell, 22, of Morristown and take her to UVM Medical Center.
On Monday, Mitchell was listed in critical condition; by Wednesday, her condition had been upgraded to fair, according to a hospital official.
The storm caused rivers to rise higher and faster than they did during Tropical Storm Irene, said Harry Shepard, Stowe’s director of public works.
“At 4:30 a.m., the water under the River Road bridge was higher than it was during Irene,” Shepard said. “It was a very unusual event, how fast the water rose.”
The gauge at the town’s sewer plant reported 3.3 inches of rain over a 24-hour period, and the subsequent flooding knocked the electrical system and controls offline at the lower village pump station, resulting in untreated sewage being discharged into the Little River from 4:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Public works rented a sewer bypass pump, got the discharge under control and notified the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation; officials are still trying to determine how much sewage was discharged, Shepard said.
Most of the storm damage occurred on the west side of Route 100, while the Stowe Hollow side was spared the brunt of the flooding, which left Percy Hill Road completely impassable and caused extensive damage on Bouchard Road; Shepard expressed doubt that the damage could be repaired fully before winter.
“I’m not convinced we’re going to get some of these roads fully open without some bigger projects,” Shepard said. “Percy Hill, Bouchard Road, they have older, bigger culverts that are on perennial streams. The permitting process for perennial streams has changed, and we don’t think we can just go back in there and change out the culverts.”
Town officials are evaluating the bridges in town to determine what damage — if any — they sustained.
“The Cemetery Road bridge looks like it’s settled about 4 inches,” Shepard said. “We think it’s still safe but it needs to be evaluated further.”
Flooding put pressure on a dam at the Stowehof, causing water from a private pond to escape and cause damage to Lower Edson Hill Road.
Police had their hands full, beginning at 5:12 a.m. with a car that drove into a large, washed-out section of road at the intersection of Sterling Valley and Bull Moose Ridge roads.
At 10:43 a.m., police responded to a tree that had fallen across the road at the intersection of Mountain and Birch Hill roads.
Flooding also washed out a section of the Stowe Recreation Path, and washed out the entrance to the parking lot of the Quiet Path.