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‘All-hands-on-deck’ as heavy rain pounds Vermont

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(The Center Square) – Vermont on Monday morning remains under a state of emergency as the National Weather Service forecasts 2 to 5 more inches of rain, and possibly up to 7.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott said he is focusing on life and safety as the Green Mountain State is experiencing its worst rainstorm since Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. Scott said he has been in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other states seeking aid.

“So far, two swift water rescue teams from North Carolina are in this state, and we have folded it into our operations,” Scott said, speaking from the state’s Emergency Operations Center. “Another team from Massachusetts is en route and will be here later today. Our local teams were staged around the state yesterday and have been busy this morning.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck response. We’re closely coordinating with federal partners. I just got off the phone with FEMA administrator Criswell, who offered full support from the federal government. I also spoke with Sen. Sanders, who made the same offer.”

Deanne Criswell leads the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, has been in Congress since 1991, including the upper chamber since 2007.

As of Monday morning, 14 swift water teams were deployed in the state and have performed 19 rescues from cars, homes, and trees as rain continues to fall, as large amounts of rain are forecast from Brattleboro to Johnson.

Dan Batsie, deputy director of public safety, encouraged Vermont residents to remain vigilant during the state’s response to the storm.

“We have teams across the spectrum of agencies and departments, including public safety, transportation, and urban search and rescue, working on the challenges that we find in their area of expertise,” Batsie said. “We anticipate these operations will continue for the next day or so, and I want to reiterate the need for safety. Please do not attempt to drive through flooded waters, be very careful and pay attention to the surroundings. If you are in a threat of high water, please evacuate.”

“We have not seen rainfall like this since Irene, and, in some places, it will surpass even that,” Scott said. “This may be just the start of what we’ll see as rainfall continues and will worsen over the next several hours.”

Scott encouraged anyone needing help to call 911 in a life-threatening situation or call 211 for assistance with shelter and other services.

“If you can’t physically see the pavement, don’t drive or walk across it,” Scott said. “And to stay informed with the most up-to-date information.”

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