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Federal, state officials surveying Vermont storm damage

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(The Center Square) – One state official said that Vermont remains in active response mode as the rain has stopped, but more precipitation is on the way.

Commissioner of Public Safety Jennifer Morrison said Wednesday that the state is in “much better shape” than it was on Tuesday. Rescue personnel have worked to save more than 200 people since Sunday, along with countless animals.

“The hardest hit area currently is Lamoille County, where we rescued 32 people and numerous animals overnight,” Morrison said, speaking from the Agency of Transportation facility in Berlin. “This brings the total number of rescues since Sunday to over 200, and we have facilitated over 100 evacuations. As I said today, we have numerous water rescues underway in Lamoille County, and we are compiling reports of damaged or destroyed critical infrastructure throughout the day. We will continue to have Swift Water and Urban Search and Rescue teams staged across the state to address local requests for assistance.”

Forty-six roads in the state remain closed, two bridges were lost due to flooding and damage to rail property, and two dams have supported rising flood waters.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott, introducing Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Deanne Criswell, said FEMA and state officials have been working around the clock to assess the situation across the entire state.

“As they discussed yesterday, the flooding we’ve seen is historic,” Scott said. “And as waters begin to recede, at least for the time being, we’ll be surveying the damage done to infrastructure, homes, and businesses. And again, this may not be over. With rain in the forecast and nowhere for it to go, we could see waters rise again. So it’s critical for mothers to be aware of their surroundings from being vigilant and plan ahead.”

Criswell said her team, along with state leaders and elected officials, will continue to assess the extent of the damage.

“So we can make sure that we are turning on the right programs and bringing the right resources in here to support the ongoing recovery efforts,” Crisswell said. “As we work with the governor’s office to better understand the overall extent and the impact of this, I think you’ve already heard this from the governor, and you’ve heard this from the commissioner, but it’s worth repeating – [It’s] very important that Vermonters state vigilant, stay vigilant, stay alert, stay aware to your surroundings.

“I know that we are expecting more rain, and so you need to make sure that you are not putting yourself in harm’s way, that you’re not moving into, walking through, or driving through water, especially moving water.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Peter Welch and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Democratic Congresswoman Becca Balint said they would work in their respective chambers to ensure Vermont is supported with all the resources it needs for the recovery.

“This is a difficult time for so many, for families, for individuals, for small businesses, and also for farmers as we were driving down from the airport,” Balint said. “[We] saw lots of cropland that has been destroyed. As we know, even on a good day farming in Vermont, it’s tough to make ends meet. So please be gentle with your neighbors. Let them know that you’re there for them, and we’re going to be there for you. Our teams will be coordinating.”

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