Vermont residents battled epic flooding on Monday after the remnants of Hurricane Irene set off the state’s worst flooding in nearly 40 years, washing out roads and knocking out power.
At least one person was killed after being swept into a swollen river in the mountainous, land-locked New England state, which rarely sees tropical storms.
Homes and businesses were flooded after 7 inches of rain inundated the state from Irene, which had been reduced to a tropical storm by the time it reached Vermont on Sunday. Floodwaters gushed through downtown Brattleboro, an artsy community of 12,000 along the Connecticut River.
On Monday, President Barack Obama signed Vermont’s emergency declaration, directing federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts, NBC News reported.
Downgraded from a hurricane as it lumbered up the coast, Irene left millions without power across much of the Eastern Seaboard, was blamed for at least 27 deaths and forced airlines to cancel more than 12,000 flights .
It never became the big-city nightmare forecasters and public officials had warned about, but it still had the ability to surprise.
And the danger was far from over for many.
Rivers and creeks turned into raging torrents tumbling with tree limbs and parts of buildings in northern New England and upstate New York.
The National Weather Service issued a series of flood warnings early Monday morning for rivers in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and Virginia.
A river gauge for the Connecticut River at Montague, Ma., showed it had risen by about 25 feet between 6 a.m. Friday and 6 a.m. ET Monday, according to the NWS.
Authorities warned of possibly disastrous flooding in the days ahead in Vermont, with the governor saying his state was facing “a full-blown flooding catastrophe.”
At least one of the state’s historic covered bridges was washed away as Irene’s rains sent rivers spilling over their banks.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin called the flooding catastrophic and several people had to be rescued. Some 50,000 people are without power, officials said on Monday.
Shumlin ordered state offices closed on Monday and urged Vermont residents to stay indoors and off the roads as emergency crews approach the worst hit areas in Rutland and Addison counties in the south and middle of the state. Many businesses in Brattleboro and other cities and towns remained closed on Monday, local media reported.
Weather reporters said the flooding was the worst in Vermont since 1973 and perhaps since 1927.
Overnight every single road in Vermont — except interstate highways Routes 89 and 91 — was closed at one point due to flooding, Robert Stirewalt, a spokesman for the Vermont Emergency Management Agency said on Monday.
“Things are bad throughout the state and we are just starting the recovery process in the light of day,” he said. “It is too early to say what the damage will be as we assess it and we hope it won’t be more extensive than last night indicated.”
Read more: http://on.msnbc.com/rrGsYK