National Guard helicopters flew over Vermont on Tuesday to airlift food, water and supplies to besieged towns that are isolated due to washed out bridges and highways.
During her final hours, Tropical Storm Irene dumped 11 inches of rain on the area, creating brown torrents and a destructive deluge that ripped homes from the ground and left residents shell-shocked. The massive storm, which has killed at least three people in Vermont, has forced the state to shut down hundreds of roads and about 30 highway bridges.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent 30 trucks filled with relief supplies to Vermont’s National Guard headquarters early Tuesday, and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate has toured the state by helicopter. The towns receiving emergency aid are Cavendish, Granville, Hancock, Killington-Mendon, Marlboro, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Rochester, Stockbridge, Strafford, Stratton and Wardsboro.
Michael Ricci of Woodstock, Vt., whose backyard borders the Ottauquechee River, told the Associated Press: “The things we saw go down the river were just incredible. Sheds, picnic tables, propane tanks, furnaces, refrigerators,” adding, “The force of it was beyond our comprehension.”
In the wake of Irene, national guardsmen are also heading to other parts of the East Coast, including New York’s Catskill Mountains. In nearby New Jersey, hundreds of people evacuated on Tuesday as flooding continued days after the weekend storm.
In Wallington, a borough in New Jersey where residents were ordered to evacuate en masse, people were reportedly climbing out of windows to escape their flooded homes. Alex Popov, a police sergeant in the New Jersey city of Paterson, told MSNBC that search and rescue teams pulled nearly 600 people from their homes as the Passaic River reached its highest level since 1903. “It’s raging,” he said of the overflowing river.