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Heavy rains lashed Vermont this week, causing significant flooding across the state. The Agency recommends that Vermonters and visitors: 

  • Avoid floodwaters that may be filled with pollutants and hazards.
  • Follow advisories from state and town officials about drinking water safety.
  • Contact the Spill Response Team about hazardous spills, contaminated floodwater in your basement, or leaking aboveground storage tanks.
  • Sort your flood trash into hazardous and non-hazardous piles - at minimum.
  • Contact the Rivers Program before initiating work in a river or stream.
  • Check closures before you head to a state park or state land to camp or hike.
  • Report damages to Vermont 211. 

Use the resources below to help you navigate your flood recovery.

Flood Recovery Resources

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Private Wells and Water

During and after flooding events, private water systems (wells, springs, and surface water intakes) can become contaminated with microorganisms and chemicals that can cause serious illnesses. Water may not be safe to use for drinking, cooking, or cleaning after a flood until it has been tested by a Vermont certified laboratory and treated accordingly.

Public Water

Flooding events can compromise critical public water infrastructure, leaving drinking water vulnerable to biological or chemical contamination. Depending on the extent of actual or potential contamination, a public water system may be placed on a Boil Water or Do Not Drink notice. This notice will remain in place until it is determined that water treatment is operating as designed, and there is no longer an immediate public health risk of drinking water contamination. 

Septic Systems

Flooding can have various impacts on your home or business septic system (on-site wastewater system). Floodwaters can damage the system’s physical structure and prevent wastewater from being treated properly. Floodwaters can also overwhelm systems and cause wastewater to back up into your home. 

Cleaning Up After the Flood

Managing Flood Debris

Be safe! Use gloves, eye protection, masks, and other protective gear. Handle household chemicals with care. After a flood event, most debris can be disposed of in one container. Separate out hazardous items from trash. 

Spills

Did the flooding cause a heating fuel tank to topple over and/or spill onto the ground or in your basement? Report any spills of hazardous materials (such as heating oil) that reached the ground or water so the Spills Program can help assess the situation and provide guidance and services for cleanup.

To report a spill, call 802-828-1138.

Basement Cleanup

The widespread flooding in Vermont caused many basements to fill with water and, in some cases, cause a release of oil from heating oil tanks in the basement. Heating oil tanks may have also become filled with water or unstable. Check out this guidance on how to safely pump out your basement:

Oily Flood Debris

After pumping out your basement, if any debris is coated with oil (such as furniture, wood, sheetrock, etc.), the material should be removed, put onto a plastic layer such as a drop cloth or tarp, and covered in an additional plastic layer to allow for it to drip dry. These materials can be disposed of as solid waste. Any liquid with oil in it – including liquid that collects on the plastic layers as noted above – should be put into a container with a lid and disposed of as household hazardous waste. 

If your heating oil tank has water in it or has become unstable due to flooding, call 802-828-1138 or the HAZMAT Hotline at 800-641-5005. DEC can help get a contractor out to assist with your tank.

Mud or Silt Cleanup

When you are cleaning up any mud or silt from flooding, use gloves, eye protection, masks, and other protective gear. If the mud or silt is contaminated with any petroleum, oil, or other hazardous material, call the 24-Hour HAZMAT Hotline at 800-641-5005 to report. For non-contaminated or pathogen-contaminated mud or silt, contact a local septic hauler for disposal services.

Above Ground Storage Tanks (ASTs)

If your AST needs to be replaced due to flooding, all new installations must follow the State’s 2017 AST Rules. These standards provide guidance on how to install ASTs in flood-prone areas and outline key measures that help prevent damage, disruption, and environmental impacts in the future.

If your AST was impacted by flooding but does not need to be replaced outright, it can be reinstalled in the same location, however, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) strongly advises that these same standards are followed.

Erosion and Landslides

Landslide hazards can be difficult to predict. Unlike flood hazards, they do not depend on river levels. However, a large body of work in Vermont suggests that a three- to five-inch precipitation event can trigger failures that lead to landslides, particularly when the ground is already saturated. 

Dial 911 to report a landslide threatening your home or business, then immediately leave the structure. In a non-emergency situation call 211 and Report a Slide online if you are concerned that erosion may impact structures on your property.

Dams

The Dam Safety Program (DSP) regulates dams in accordance with state law and works to reduce risks to life, property, and the environment from dam incidents and dam failure. DSP regulates non-power, non-federal dams and acts as the owner and operator at 14 DEC-owned dams, including the 3 Winooski River Flood Control Dams (Waterbury, Wrightsville, East Barre). The program manages the Vermont Dam Inventory database, a permit program for construction and alteration of dams, an inspection program, an annual registration program, and other related tasks. The DSP also educates dam owners and the public about dam safety issues. 

Recreation After the Flood

Trails, Hiking, and Forests

Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers

After a flood, surface waters (such as lakes, ponds, and rivers) and flood waters could contain debris, contaminants, and pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, that may cause illness or injury. Flood waters also carry excess nutrients and sediments, further reducing water quality. Though these areas may not be posted with notices to avoid contact, recreation, wading, boating, swimming, or fishing should be avoided for several days until flows return to normal levels. Wait until the water is clear and calm and use extra caution. 

If you are boating on lakes at high water levels, move at slower than normal speeds to reduce shoreline erosion. 

River Damage and Restoration

Non-Discrimination Notice:

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) operates its programs, services, and activities without discriminating on the basis of race, religion, creed, color, national origin (including limited English proficiency), ancestry, place of birth, disability, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or breastfeeding (mother and child).

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