Emergency Select Board Meeting Focuses on Flood Recovery

ClosePlease loginn

by Gazette Staff

WOLCOTT – The Wolcott Selectboard held an emergency meeting on July 14 to discuss the current state of flood damage and measures to help residents and repair damage. This meeting was a follow-up to an emergency meeting held on July 11. The meeting was attended by Sen. Rich Westman (Lamoille) and Rep. Dan Noyes (Lamoille-2).

Board vice chair Kurt Klein reported that all Wolcott roads are now open except for Flat Iron Road, which will remain closed for a while. Emergency road repairs were made to deal with problems, including culverts and ditching, to prevent residents from being stranded. A lot of this work is temporary. Road Foreman Dillan Cafferky was able to enlist the assistance of a couple private individuals to help the road crew. Cafferky stated that the crew started with the worst areas and worked back from there. Klein thanked residents for their patience as the road crew continues to respond to outstanding requests for repairs.

Board chair Linda Martin reported that there is extensive damage to structures and residences along Vt. Rte. 15 and School Street. Martin and Ryan Bjerke have been going door-to-door to provide citizens with information on available assistance. A flyer was distributed with information on how to seek assistance from FEMA.

There is a 30-day window, starting July 14, in which to file a claim.

Martin has also been assessing damage and safety issues in North Wolcott. She attended a local human services coordination meeting on July 14, along with local legislators and the sheriff. Martin stressed the need for residents to report damage to Vt. 211. It was noted that Capstone in Morrisville is providing hot meals to go Friday through Sunday. Drinking water is being donated.

The town has a few water testing kits. Although individuals can call the state health department to obtain a free water kit, Martin has requested that the department provide free kits to the town for distribution. If free water testing kits are not made available, perhaps ARPA funds can be used to purchase them.

A dumpster is needed in town for bulk items. Residents with furniture and other bulk items damaged by flood water will most likely pile items up in their yard. Klein noted that the Litter & Solid Waste Committee’s annual Bulk Waste Day is on Saturday, July 22, at the Wolcott Transfer Station. Klein suggested that in addition to a dumpster on School Street, flood victims should be able to start bringing bulk items to the transfer station at no charge. It was suggested that flood-damaged bulk items taken to the transfer station be tracked. FEMA funds might be available.

The town office is the place to come for drinking water. In addition to local donations, the labor union that the road crew belongs to was expected to deliver 30 cases of water on Saturday.

Properties that were flooded may have a septic problem. For some, septic systems have backed up into the house. The septic systems for the town office and the fire department were filled with flood water. They were pumped yesterday.

Rep. Noyes will check with VTrans to determine what sections along Vt. Rte. 15 have been inspected, and if any bridges have been inspected. It was noted that the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail property that crosses School Street by the town garage needs a lot of work.

Insurance claims will be filed for damage to town properties. The town hall suffered the worst, with at least five feet of water in the basement. The fire department pumped out the water, but sludge remains. The town garage flooded, resulting in damage to various tools, a welder, a battery charger. The floor is covered in sludge and oil. The fire department flooded resulting in damage to equipment and other items. Mold is a concern. Photos have been taken and lists of damaged items have been compiled. A cleaning company will prepare a quote for cleaning toxic areas.

Sen. Westman suggested that the road foreman inspect bridges for any substantial problems. If there are concerns with specific bridges, state inspections can be sought. Bridge inspections by the state normally occur on a rolling five-year basis.

Martin stated that it would be very helpful to have a checklist of what towns need to do. Sen. Westman will contact Kendal Smith in the governor’s office in that regard.

The town expressed thanks to the highway department and the fire department for their service during the crisis, and for their continuing efforts.

It was suggested there be more barriers set up to block areas where people should not go during an emergency. The sheriff noted that his office ran out of orange cones. Cafferky stated the highway department ran out of cones and lost a lot of them in the flood waters.

A lot of residents are interested in learning how they can help, and what services they can provide to those impacted by the flood.

The board then voted to authorize the town to rent a roll-off dumpster to place along School Street for the benefit of residents of School Street and Vt. Rte. 15 to deposit bulk items damaged by flood water.

The next regular select board meeting is scheduled for July 19, at 6 p.m.