Northfield sustains considerable damage

 

NORTHFIELD — Twenty-five feet of water flooded Northfield’s wastewater treatment facility Sunday, knocking it out and causing the release of an undetermined amount of raw effluent into the Dog River, Village Manager Nanci Allard told an emergency joint meeting of the Select Board and village trustees Monday. It was part of the heavy toll Tropical Storm Irene took on Northfield as it washed out a number of bridges and caused multiple road closings. While Northfield was assessing the damage to homes and infrastructure, the village of Roxbury, eight miles to the south, was essentially cut off with main roads from the north, south and west closed. In Northfield, Allard said workers at the wastewater plant were trying to maintain the biological systems needed to operate the facility in place while they pumped the floodwaters from the basement. Select Board Chairman Charlie Morse warned people away from the mud and residue the river left behind in town. “I’ve seen oil and propane tanks and any number of things floating in the river, and I just want to warn people to stay out of the muck and water,” Morse said. Allard reported the town’s water system was isolated from any contamination and that reservoirs were full, with at least a two-day supply of water. One of the worst hits for the town was the Wall-Goldfinger complex downtown, where water reached the second-story floors. As well as housing the corporate furniture manufacturer, the building is home to Barry T. Chouinard, La Panciata bakery, Rocky’s Repair and the Simply Fords Automotive and Tire Center. Water from the Dog River also washed out a major section of the driveway to the building, making access to much of the space nearly impossible to reach. “It is questionable if they will be able to continue to operate out of the building,” said Morse. “That’s 90 jobs right there.” Because of flood damage to both bridges on the golf course at the Northfield Country Club, it was forced to close for the season. Morse said many homes near the river, which flowed nearly 20 feet above its normal level, had springs, wells and sewer systems compromised. Nearly three dozen families were isolated at the mobile home complex on Fairground Road, as the only bridge to their area had one end in the river. Town Road Foreman Pete Demasi said his crews created a pedestrian bridge for those residents to reach Route 12A. Although there were no outages for Northfield Electric customers, many residents who receive power from Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service Corp. were still without power Monday morning. Nearly 20 of Northfield’s roads were impassable, making it difficult for power crews to make repairs. “We are essentially landlocked,” said Morse. The only access into town was by way of the Interstate 89 access road Route 64. Route 12, the main thoroughfare through Northfield, was closed from both the north and south. “I have an expletive I would like to say about this day,” Morse said. Morse also said the railroad had suffered losses as the Rabbit Hollow Bridge had washed out and the tracks were suspended in mid-air. Demasi, who had spent Sunday night ferrying nurses to and from Mayo Healthcare nursing home and the morning surveying the damage to roads — which had already been hit hard during the flooding in late May — gave the Select Board and trustees a report of road conditions. Roads closed in Northfield include Bear Farm Road, Cox Brook Road, Colson Road, Hockman Hill Road, Dole Hill Road, Water Street, Terry Hill Road, Lover’s Lane, Stony Brook Road, Thompson Hill Road, Adams Hill Road and Smith Hill Road. Demasi said several bridges, including the Third Covered Bridge in Northfield Falls and the Pleasant Street Bridge, had been compromised and needed to be inspected by an engineer before they could be reopened. Demasi said that although he had taken many photographs, he was going to need extra photos so he could make a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Anyone with photos to share can email them to Allard at nallard@northfield.vt.us. Morse told the joint boards that there will be an abatement process for taxpayers whose homes and properties were damaged by the storm. “If you have lost your well, for instance, you will get an abatement for $4,000 of your property’s value,” said Morse. Town Manager Rob Lewis said there was the potential for private homeowners to receive FEMA relief and that he would make sure forms were available in the office. “I hope to have FEMA here in Northfield,” Lewis said. daniel.staples@timesargus.com

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