October 20, 2014

Storm causes extensive damage

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A section of Old Stage Road will be closed indefinitely until storm damage can be assessed and repaired. (Observer photo by Marianne Apfelbaum).

A section of Old Stage Road will be closed indefinitely until storm damage can be assessed and repaired. (Observer photo by Marianne Apfelbaum).

Repairs will affect budget

 

 Marianne Apfelbaum

Observer staff

Williston Public Works Director Bruce Hoar and his staff were scrambling Wednesday morning to deal with the aftermath of Tuesday’s heavy rainstorm, which caused extensive damage throughout town. “There is so much water and nowhere for it to go. We are doing what we can do right now,” he said.

Among the more serious issues was the pump station on Old Stage Road, which was just rebuilt last year. “It was flooded and is out of service,” Hoar said, noting that a bypass pump is being used until the regular pump can be repaired.

A sinkhole formed on Old Stage Road, which required that a section of the road between Brookside and Maple drives be closed. “It will be closed for the indefinite future. It’s a real problem for us. A huge culvert must have a hole…we are investigating the cause, but it could be closed for weeks,” Hoar said.

Butternut Road also sustained substantial damage, with flooding taking out the road on both sides. The road is “closed for all practical purposes,” Hoar said, until a contractor can assess and repair the damage.  A 150-foot washout on South Road will require repairs, but the road was able to be kept open, Hoar noted.

Mountain View Road will have to close between Old Stage and North Williston roads for repairs in the next couple of days due to a large culvert that “separated.” Repairs shouldn’t take more than a day, depending on the extent of the damage, Hoar said.

A Chapman Lane culvert was washed out and Bradley Lane “washed out,” Hoar said.  “Water was coming right down the middle of it, but we were able to open it to one-way traffic.”

The storm “created lots of infrastructure havoc,” Fire Chief Ken Morton said, describing the amount of rain in such a short time as “probably the worst I’ve seen in 32 years in the fire department.”

In addition to pumping out basements, the department responded to a home on Raven Lane that was struck by lightning, and coordinated with the police and public works departments to assess damage around town and help coordinate traffic due to detours because of flooded roads.

Hoar said his overall plan at this point, after taking care of any safety-related issues, is to “go after the busiest roads first and to get the pump station up and running.”

The storm repair bill will put a dent in Williston’s coffers, and possibly the federal government’s as well. “The State called and said to keep track of the damage,” Hoar said, speculating that it may be looking to the governor to send a declaration to FEMA, which usually pays 75-80 percent of authorized damage costs. “We (the town) still need to come up with other money… yes, it will affect the budget, I just don’t know to what extent yet.”

Hoar encouraged residents to check the town website at www.town.williston.vt.us for updates on road closures, but emphasized that repairs will take time. “Patience is the key word,” he said.

More hazardous weather forecasted

The national weather service in Burlington issued a “hazardous weather statement” on its website Wednesday, noting that the main threat would be wind gusts to 50 mph, small hail, heavy downpours and “dangerous cloud to ground lightning,” as well as the potential for more flooding.

The warning also noted that heavy rainfall and thunderstorms were likely for late Thursday through Saturday, with increased potential for flash flooding as the ground becomes more saturated.

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