Two weeks have passed since the Halloween storm dumped more than 3 inches of rain on northern Vermont, washing out some roads and submerging others all over Lamoille County, and bringing high winds that knocked out electricity across the region.
Recovery efforts began immediately, but many town roads still need major repairs, and winter has arrived a bit ahead of schedule.
A minor storm last Friday delayed some repair work, and a stronger storm earlier this week — and overnight temperatures in the single digits — have slowed or stopped many recovery efforts.
Town roads took the biggest hit, with dozens washed out or eaten into by raging rivers, but several state highways were damaged as well.
On Route 100 in Eden, a deep culvert washed out near the Mount Norris Boy Scout camp. That section of Route 100 needs a major fix, which is being overseen by the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
In addition, “we’ve got quite a few minor repairs,” said Ernie Patnoe, VTrans general manager for District 8. Route 12 lost three culverts in Elmore and Worcester, and had a minor washout, too. The majority of that damage has been repaired, but the contractor hired for one of the jobs “couldn’t start today because of the snow,” Patnoe said Tuesday.
Route 108 in Stowe near Topnotch needs to be milled and repaved, and Route 15 in Johnson village needs patch paving where floodwaters peeled up the old patches.
The cost of all these repairs and others in District 8, which covers both Lamoille and Franklin counties, should be available soon.
Here’s a look at how individual towns are recovering.
Brooks boiling out of highlands near Sterling Mountain caused washouts and damage on several town roads. Sections of three of them — Mud City Loop, Cole Hill and Sterling Valley Road — are all still closed, Morristown highway foreman Kevin Barrows said Tuesday.
“We’re working on them when we can,” Barrows said. He’s waiting to hear from state officials on a temporary fix on Mud City Loop. The town highway crew was working on Cole Hill Road earlier this week, but the snow and cold halted that. Barrows hopes his crew can get back up there, and on Sterling Valley Road, as soon as the weather allows. He hopes the roads will be open by the end of next week, “but of course that depends on Mother Nature,” Barrows said.
Goeltz Road was closed for several days, but reopened last Thursday, Nov. 7.
Morristown Finance Director Tina Sweet doesn’t yet have cost estimates for the repair work, but she knows about 75 sites across town needed at least some work.
“Some were quite extensive. We hired contractors to come in with different equipment we didn’t have,” Sweet said. “It’s very expensive.”
Reports of washed out or undermined roads poured in across Hyde Park Nov. 1, but all town roads reopened by the end of last week, said Ron Rodjenski, the town administrator — including Whitcomb Island Road, which was washed out on both sides of a bridge over the Gihon River. That road could have reopened sooner, but engineers took extra time to make sure the bridge was safe to use.
“We’ve been able to get roads open, but now we need to look at half a dozen sites and see if the existing conditions there are OK” and able to stand up to winter, Rodjenski said.
All told, Rodjenski estimates Hyde Park roads had $150,000 in damage.
Johnson’s Rocky Road is still closed, Town Administrator Brian Story said Tuesday, and he expects it to stay that way.
The road washed out yet again near Scribner Bridge, and town officials want to fix the problem causing the washouts, rather than just patching things up, “so we don’t have the same damage again,” Story said. The town designed a fix in 2013, and would like to update and implement it.
The town hopes for a federal emergency declaration for the state, based on all the storm damage, which could make Federal Emergency Management Agency money available for repairs. But FEMA money is typically only used to repair a site exactly as it was, not improve it, and if a town goes beyond that, it might have to repay the money, which recently occurred in Killington.
“We have to be very careful,” Story said.
Story hopes Rocky Road can reopen before winter really clamps down, but if not, he’s working on an alternate route that would allow continued access to nearby Hunter Road.
All other roads in Johnson reopened by Saturday, Nov. 2, Story said, although the highway crew continues to work on areas that are still a little rough. Story estimates the storm caused $35,000 in damage in Johnson, with the bulk of that at Scribner Bridge.
In Eden, during the early stages of the storm, it was nearly impossible to get into or out of town, save for some side roads over East Hill toward Craftsbury.
Now, “we’ve been able to glue and paste the town back together, hopefully in time for winter,” said Carol Hamel, Eden’s assistant town treasurer.
Hamel said the town is working on getting cost estimates for a box culvert on Paronto Road that failed.
A bridge on Blakeville Road is all but irreparable, said town clerk Candace Vear. It’s not clear what will happen with that if the town can’t fix the bridge.
Vear and Hamel said town road crews had their hands full from the flood, and then the weather switched over, and they have their hands full with snow removal.
“Ricky (Morin) is a darn good road commissioner,” Hamel said. “He’s got all his ducks in a row.
Repair estimates for several major washouts in Wolcott aren’t yet available, but the roads are at least partially passable now.
The bottom of Brook Road, near North Wolcott Road, was destroyed by a washout, but reopened five days later, road commissioner Lucien Gravel said.
“We still have to fix a couple of things, there’s two or three more days of work, but it is open to the public,” he said last Friday.
Elmore Pond Road is also passable, with a few things that still need fixing, and he hopes the new town crew hired the day of the Halloween storm can have it done before winter.
North Wolcott Road also washed out in three places, one in Craftsbury and two in North Wolcott. A Wolcott washout at the edge of the village has been repaired but is still a bit bumpy. The other, at the bottom of Sand Hill, will require a much larger fix; the road has been reduced down to one lane of alternating, one-way traffic while repair plans are drawn up.
Lapland, Rogers, Montgomery and Locke roads had major storm damage in Waterville, but now “everything’s open,” said town clerk Nancy LaRose.
Taking stock of the damage came to an abrupt halt when the town received 6 inches of snow Monday night. When things calm down a bit, the town will figure out how much repairs will cost.
All town roads in Cambridge are open and only Quinn Road still needs some minor repairs, highway foreman Bill Morey said last Friday.
Damage estimates in Cambridge totaled $40,000, Morey said.
About $30,000 in damage was done to Elmore’s roads, town clerk Sharon Draper said, with most of that occurring at a washout on Bedell Brook Road.
“There was some other, spotty damage that had to be patched,” she said. Bedell Brook Road is back open now, she added.
Stowe quickly reopened most roads damaged in the storm, but now faces several large, long-term fixes that will be extremely pricy.
One of those is on Stagecoach Road, where a pair of large 14-by-8-foot culverts need to be replaced.
“They’re not young and the storm exacerbated their condition and their ability to carry load,” Town Manager Charles Safford told the select board on Tuesday. Town crews are monitoring those culverts while looking for funding to replace them. But, because of the size of the culverts and the current permits for that area, the town will likely need to replace them with a single-span bridge.
“It’s likely to be expensive to do that, in the millions-of-dollars category,” Safford said.
The layout of the two culverts, and the space between them, are fouling up getting state aid to install a bridge.
“We are working with the state to try and recognize that this is something that is beyond the means of the town,” said Harry Shepard, Stowe’s public works director.
A section of the Stowe Recreation Path needs to be shored up, as does a bridge on Luce Hill Road. Culverts need to be replaced on Percy Hill and Bouchard roads.
“Percy Road and Bouchard road culverts, we have performed tourniquet-level work on both of those to open the roads, but neither are finished solutions,” Shepard told the board. Both spots will require large, open-bottom culverts, and each project needs to be designed by an engineer.
A different temporary culvert should be installed on Bouchard Road next week.
Stowe’s highway crew has already dealt with a large washout on Sterling Valley Road and contractors were brought in to fix washouts on Edson Hill and West Hill roads.
“We had a couple of dozen other washouts around town, but nothing that was as significant as those,” Shepard said. Embankments also have to be stabilized on Weeks Hill and Barrows roads and Sugarbush Lane.
A pumping station for Stowe’s sewage-treatment plant also flooded in the lower village, damaging the electrical system, so for a time on Nov. 1, sewage wasn’t pumping properly and was overflowing into the Little River. But town workers were able to bypass some controls, got one pump working by Friday afternoon, and had things running again by that evening.
Shepard estimates it will cost $25,000 to repair damage to the pumping station.
Josh O’Gorman contributed to this report.