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A powerful storm is hitting Vermont hard, causing flash floods


A powerful storm is dropping heavy rain in New York and New England, and it is a deadly storm. At least one person has died in New York, where Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency in several counties. High water has also done a lot of damage in Vermont, where rain is still falling. Vermont Public's Nina Keck joins us from Chittenden. Nina, you've been out in this weather today. Tell us what you're seeing.

NINA KECK, BYLINE: Yeah, I started driving at 8 a.m. this morning. The rain was steady. That speeded up. I had to have my windshield wipers on high, and it really hasn't let up. And with the ground already saturated, I have to say I had a bad feeling driving around 'cause you'd watch farm fields and normally small streams that were filling up and churning, culverts straining on the sides of the roads. And what makes this storm so serious is that it's moving slowly. So the rain just keeps coming, and the ground can't absorb it. Forecasters expect rivers across the state to flood tonight and in - flooding in tomorrow. Route 4 is a major east-west corridor that was already grappling with some mudslides that happened near Killington last weekend.

And our governor here in Vermont, Phil Scott, declared a state of emergency yesterday and called it an all-hands-on-deck situation with emergency management agencies and various local fire departments. He said there were 14 swift boat rescue teams working right now across the state to and from North Carolina and another team in from Massachusetts to help. I think by noon, approximately 19 people had been helped with boat rescues and evacuations.

FLORIDO: And what are the hardest-hit areas of Vermont right now?

KECK: Right now is the crucial word in that sentence or that question because it's changing rapidly. Today, though, Londonderry and Ludlow, Weston and along the spine of the Green Mountains - those were towns and areas specifically that were hard-hit. So I'm talking about towns in southeastern part of the state in Windsor County. Ludlow was reporting, for instance, nearly six inches of rain. That's a month's worth that they got in less than 24 hours. Here's Ludlow's town manager.

BRENDAN MCNAMARA: The total scope of what kind of damage has occurred in Ludlow is not even - the onion isn't even peeled back at all right now. I mean, we're - I'm up and down Main Street because that's what we can access, and it is not good.

KECK: That was Ludlow town manager Brendan McNamara. And across the border, up to eight inches of rain has fallen in parts of New York today, wreaking havoc there. New York Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted today that Orange County experienced a 1-in-1,000-year weather event last night. The rain has subsided, she tweeted, but the crisis is not over. She connected the severe weather today to other recent storms in New York, including the deadly blizzard that hit Buffalo last winter. She tied it all to climate change.


KATHY HOCHUL: My friends, this is the new normal. And we in government, working with our partners on the ground, have to work with our communities to build up resiliency, to be prepared for the worst because the worst continues to happen.

FLORIDO: Nina, this is some of the same area that was hard-hit by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. I imagine people are making comparisons to that.

KECK: They are. And it's eerie to think about, but at least we're somewhat better prepared this time around.

FLORIDO: Vermont Public's Nina Keck. Thanks for your reporting.

KECK: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Nina has been reporting for VPR since 1996, primarily focusing on the Rutland area. An experienced journalist, Nina covered international and national news for seven years with the Voice of America, working in Washington, D.C., and Germany. While in Germany, she also worked as a stringer for Marketplace. Nina has been honored with two national Edward R. Murrow Awards: In 2006, she won for her investigative reporting on VPR and in 2009 she won for her use of sound. She began her career at Wisconsin Public Radio.