In the last two days, heavy rains have caused landslides, floods and major damage in various areas of the northeastern United States. Among the most affected states are New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, but above all Vermont, where a state of emergency was declared on Tuesday morning. Even if the situation is slowly returning to normal, rescue operations are continuing in Vermont to try to evacuate people still isolated from their homes. State Governor Phil Scott told a news conference that the devastation wrought by the floods in recent days is “historic and catastrophic»: according to state authorities, these are the most disastrous floods since Hurricane Irene in 2011.
At least 117 Vermont residents have been rescued in their homes or while trying to leave in their cars, which remained at least partially submerged in water. In total, hundreds of people had to leave their homes. Heavy rains caused rivers to overflow and roads to collapse almost everywhere, and in New York state they forced the authorities to temporarily suspend the movement of trains along a stretch of the valley crossed by the Hudson River. TO Montpelierthe capital of Vermont, an emergency order was issued that required the closure of the city center, where both part of the city hall and the police and fire departments were flooded, which complicated the rescue operations.
Also in upstate New York, a 35-year-old woman died after being swept away by a current of water while trying to leave her home in Orange County. A county official, Steve Neuhaus, estimated that there will be “easily tens of millions of dollars in damage.”
On Tuesday morning, US President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for Vermont, the only state where the situation is continuing to be rather difficult, releasing funds that will be allocated to assistance to the population. Meanwhile William Fraser, an official of the administration of Montpelier, he wrote on Facebook that the nearby Wrightsville Dam is nearing its maximum capacity: up to now, the water has never had a risk of overflowing, so at the moment there is no precedent for estimating the potential damage.
Vermont officials are calling the flooding the worst since Hurricane Irene reached the US state as a tropical storm in 2011 pic.twitter.com/eJaAoRqDyH
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 11, 2023
It seems that since Monday the water has slowly begun to retreat, but in some cities the amount of rain that fell within 24 hours was enormous. The National Weather Service, the US agency that deals with weather forecasting, he said that in some areas of New York state twice the amount of rain that normally falls in a month fell in 24 hours. In Montpelier, on the other hand, about 13.4 centimeters of rain fell on Monday alone: a record, even compared to the rain that fell in the city at the end of August 2011 during the passage of Irene, which reached Vermont when it had already been downgraded to a tropical storm and caused extensive damage, as well as more than 40 deaths throughout the northeast of the country.
Although in the absence of specific studies it is not possible to automatically attribute these floods to climate change, we have long known that global warming increases the risks of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, and requires immediate measures to prevent their effects.