Barre gets ready ‘just in case’
BARRE — A recent run of unusually wet weather with more on the horizon has city officials on yellow alert as yet another storm approaches.
Flooding is a concern given Barre’s history with weather patterns like the one that has settled in this week and is expected to extend into early next week.
With a forecast calling for long periods of steady soaking or periodic heavy rain later today and into Friday, City Manager Steve Mackenzie said his department heads are on an “elevated state of alert and preparedness” and officials from Vermont Emergency Management have scheduled an afternoon briefing at Alumni Hall.
According to Mackenzie, the 5 p.m. briefing was requested by Mayor Thomas Lauzon. Officials from neighboring communities, including Barre Town, Montpelier and Berlin, have been invited to attend, he said.
It may not amount to anything, but Mackenzie said the rain that has fallen so far, coupled with the rain that is expected to fall, has historically led to flooding in Barre.
“It just feels like times past,” he said, noting city crews are monitoring trash racks and “choke points” along the Stevens Branch of the Winooski River and Gunner Brook, and have started reaching out to contractors to arrange for them to mobilize excavators at key locations if the water starts to rise rapidly.
“We’re just trying to make sure, as best we can, that nobody gets caught asleep at the wheel,” he said.
The fact that the fire department is operating out of the Civic Center complex on Seminary Hill is unrelated to the weather, but could be a helpful coincidence if North Main Street floods as it has in the past and did two years ago.
“Let’s hope that’s a staging that wasn’t needed for this,” he said, noting firefighters have been operating from the civic center while the fire station is being cleaned in the wake of suspected asbestos contamination that was linked to a late-December fire.
Meanwhile, emergency services around the state are preparing for any problems that may stem from the extended rain Vermont is expected to see into at least Tuesday.
The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security says it has been working with municipalities, emergency responders, the National Guard, and other state and federal partners on any issues that may crop up due to saturated soils and rivers from the rain.
No flooding is imminent, but the National Weather Service says flooding could occur in as yet undetermined areas of the state due to heavy rain.
Emergency management advises Vermonters to remain vigilant and use common sense to protect themselves, their families, and their property. Drive at safe speeds during downpours, stay clear of high or fast-running water, and never drive or walk across a flooded road. Emergency management says this is also a good occasion to ensure you have an emergency preparedness kit with items like water, food, flashlights, radio, and batteries.
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