Rain, flooding batter Brattleboro roads

Rain, flooding batter Brattleboro roads

Floodwaters destroy centuries-old culvert, causing $200,000 in damage to Hinesburg Road

A batch of heavy showers and thundershowers on July 17 and 18 dumped about 4.5 inches of rain in the area and caused flash flooding that damaged roadways, flooded basements, kept emergency personnel busy, and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to roads in town.

No injuries were reported.

According to a release from the Brattleboro Fire Department, most of the flooding took place in West Brattleboro, which received the most rain from the storms. Some flooding also showed up downtown “in the usual poor drainage areas.”

The weekend rain came on top of a series of showers and thunderstorms over the previous two weeks that has left the soil in most of the region saturated with water during a month that is on pace to set records for being the wettest one ever in southern Vermont.

Public Works Director Steve Barrett said most of the rain fell between 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 17 and 8 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, July 18.

“The damage occurred when debris from trees and gravel blocked culverts or drainage systems that were overwhelmed by the rainfall amounts,” said Barrett.

Calls started coming into the fire department around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday as they and personnel from the Police and Public Works departments assisted with handling the emergency calls.

The worst damage occurred on Hinesburg Road, where a stone culvert near Melchen Road completely washed out.

Multiple reports on Facebook from neighbors described a family escaping from a car moments before the culvert gave way and the vehicle was swept into the chasm created by the flooding.

Neighbors posted that the family reported the incident to emergency personnel from the safety of their home.

With the sun shining, attention has turned to cleaning up the mess and repairing the damage.

“The little dirt road I live on is now a major detour,” State Rep. Emilie Kornheiser (D-Brattleboro) told The Commons on Tuesday.

She said it appears that the majority of the damage was inflicted on public property, and the flooding was confined to Brattleboro.

The damage falls far short of the threshold to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency involved in repairs, she noted.

“Motorists and residents are asked to continue to use caution on roadways when approaching crews and equipment working on these repairs and to expect delays,” according to the Department of Public Works in a news release issued Tuesday.

State aid may be available to help with the cost of repairs, and town officials are working with personnel from the Agency of Transportation and other state agencies “to manage and seek funding for these repairs.”

“Just the culvert on Hinesburg Road will cost over $200,000 to repair,” said Barrett, saying it will likely take until the fall for the work to be completed.

The culvert, vestiges of which can be seen in the strata of pavement and dirt exposed by the collapse, “was constructed in the 1800s and was built of stone,” he said.

Barrett plans to replace it with a larger concrete box culvert, which will provide better water flow in future storms.

As of Tuesday, the DPW reports that the damage to be addressed includes:

Stark Road: Closed while crews repair the road.

Hinesburg Road: The road will remain closed for several weeks while planning and repairs to the stone culvert take place. Crews will be working to repair the edge of the road and secure the guardrails.

Akley Road: Crews will be working to reconstruct the roadway in several areas and repair damage to some culverts. .

Crosby Street: State officials are working with town staff to develop a plan to repair the damage from a major washout.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Kornheiser also enumerated washouts and other damage to Melchan Road, Bonnyvale Road, Covey Road, Country Hill, Starks Road, Kelly Road, Hescock Road, and Abbott Road.

On Monday, the Highway Department worked on Akley and Abbot roads, and Kornheiser said that the Agency of Transportation and the state stream engineer were expected to assess the situation.

Renaud Construction will conduct a site visit at Hinesburg and Melchan roads, she added.

“Please join me in saying thank you to DPW crews who worked diligently through the weekend, got some rest last night, and are back out doing additional repairs this morning,” Kornheister wrote.

“Please be in touch if you need anything,” she added. “I may not be able to fix, it but I might be able to put you in touch with folks who will.”

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