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It Isn’t Over Yet: July 2023 Flooding a Year Later

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HARDWICK, ADAMANT, CABOT, CALAIS, CRAFTSBURY, GREENSBORO, GREENSBORO BEND, MARSHFIELD, PLAINFIELD, STANNARD, WALDEN, WOLCOTT, WOODBURY — One year after a rainstorm dumped unprecedented amounts of rain on the Hardwick area, leading to devastating floods, towns are still dealing with the aftermath.

The event began on July 10, 2023, as the Lamoille River and other area bodies of water filled beyond bank full and brought even more damage than the flooding that accompanied 2011’s hurricane Irene. Area residents turned out to help their neighbors and businesses recover.

The National Weather Service reported that five to nearly eight inches of rain fell over the region between the time the storm started Sunday, July 10 ,and ended Tuesday, July 12. The ground was already saturated by torrential rainfall from thunderstorms on July 4, which triggered minor flash flooding in East Hardwick, Walden, and Stannard. Rainfall from repetitive thunderstorms in that event totaled half an inch to an inch and a half.

The night of July 10, 2023, in Hardwick, the designated emergency storm shelter at Hazen Union Gymnasium hosted nearly 50 people. Sections of Routes 14, 15, and 16 were closed. A section of The Inn by the River fell into the Lamoille river, crashing into the Main Street Bridge as it floated downstream, while what remained suffered significant flood damage.

photo by Vanessa Fournier The Inn by the River being demolished on Tuesday, July 9 by Raymond Lefevre of All Metals Recycling operates the excavator taking it down. All Metals is the subcontractor for the material disposal.. The Inn was destroyed in the catastrophic flood of July 10-12 last year.

Jackson Bridge in Hardwick was severely damaged as were sections of the recently completed Lamoille Valley Rail Trail; so significantly that its grand opening the following weekend was canceled.

Tops Friendly Market closed at 5 p.m. Monday, ending up with a foot of water that left behind four inches of mud when it receded. The store had reopened Saturday at 4 p.m., just 112 hours later, thanks to help from employees and contractors.

Craftsbury was entirely cut off from the rest of Vermont for a period and the fire department bridge destroyed. Townspeople there came together for a meeting almost immediately, developing plans to aid each other.

Greensboro’s road to Craftsbury was closed for an extended period and water rose over the dam at the public beach for the first time anyone can recall.

courtesy photo
In Cabot, waters receded beside Harry’s Hardware on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, leaving a large hole beside the store. Just days later Co-owner Jina Alboreo told Vermont Public Reporter, Erika Heilman, they had started a GoFundMe and were rebuilding, despite the foundation having been destroyed.

Route 14 was impassable north and south of Woodbury for an extended period.

The Marshfield Village Store opened its upstairs apartment to 20 or so stranded travelers as rising floodwaters closed all roads in and out of town. The next day owners of the cooperative organized help for residents needing food, water, relief supplies and services. That helped residents get through an extended period without water as crews worked to restore water and sewage lines after the collapse of Folsom Hill Road.

The Adamant Music School was inaccessible for the better part of two weeks as crews worked to rebuild Haggett Road which was destroyed in the flood.

In Greensboro Bend, Jen and Landon Thompson helped coordinate an effort to check on every home there and in Stannard because Landon felt there was more damage than anyone knew and a lot of people in the area don’t have internet and social media, he told VTDigger.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
​In Hardwick, the eastern approach to Routes 14 and 15 at Jackson Bridge ​washed out due to debris and high water​. It was down to one-lane as State crews repaired it.

By July 14, all Wolcott roads were open, at least with temporary fixes, except Flat Iron Road. Extensive damage to structures and residences along Vt. Rte. 15, School Street and Route 211 led the town to order a dumpster for damaged household items and distribute flyers with information on how to seek assistance from FEMA.

Hardwick opened a Flood Supply Center in the police station. It was staffed by Hardwick Area Neighbor to Neighbor volunteers, offering pumps, fans and a variety of cleaning liquids, construction bags, masks, gloves, sponges, spray bottles, totes, hand sanitizers and assorted other personal care products. They worked together with the Civic Standard to keep resources stocked and to connect volunteers with those needing flood cleanup help and other services. Both those organizations continue to help bring the community together and serve those in need.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
The final section of The Inn by the River in Hardwick being demolished Tuesday morning July 9. Complete Demolition Service of Fairfax is the general contractor, managing the project. Last year during the July 10-12 flood much of the inn fell into the river.

Flooding happened again in December, adding to already damaged infrastructure. In Hardwick, the pedestrian bridge project had to be expanded to cover work rebuilding the retaining wall on the Main Street side, which had been damaged in the December flooding.

Plainfield escaped the worst that December’s flooding brought, but lessons learned in July taught them to evacuate Twinfield Union School early, before a flood can reach it. Both events made residents aware of their vulnerability as flooded roads cut off the town for essential services, according to VTDigger.

photo by Jamie Moorby
In Calais, the historic Curtis Pond dam is inundated with water overtopping it during the summer 2024 flood. After more than 20 years of planning, approvals and funding are in place to rebuild the dam this year.

Residents in Hardwick and other area towns have been asking themselves and their town government officials a lot of questions following the 2023 flood events:

What will towns located along Vermont’s waterways do if the negative impacts of extreme weather events get worse?

When do we stop putting things back the way they were and take steps to prepare for an unknown future?

What happens to the homes and businesses that can’t be reused after last year’s floods?

Federal buyouts and land turned into green space may be a benefit in some ways, but what happens to people displaced from their homes in a state where there’s already a tight and expensive housing market?

photo by Hal Gray
In Greensboro, a waterfall runs off Craftsbury Road at 1 p.m on a sunny July 11​, 2023​, just north of the intersection with North Shore Road​. Not much later the road became completely impassable as water fu​rther eroded it.​ Paving wasn’t completed until September of that year.

How do we find ways to help displaced people remain in the community and not have to go elsewhere, or even leave the state?

How do we replace the lost tax revenue from property that becomes town-owned?

photo by Hal Gray
In Greensboro, Caspian Lake water flows over the dam on July 12, 2023, as the lake fills with floodwaters from higher elevations. High water adversely affected many docks along the lake’s shores, but the dam and the Miller’s Thumb and Willey’s stores appear to have suffered no lasting damage.

A year after the July 2023 flood, there’s still work to be done recovering. In early April, the Cabot Fire Department moved into a new $1 million temporary building. Work continues on plans for its permanent home and the town will benefit by bringing together the FAST Squad, town constable and forest fire warden.

Despite long delays with FEMA projects and uncertainties about payment schedules, some projects have been approved for payment and towns recently learned FEMA funds can cover interest on the loans they take out to cover flood recovery costs while they wait to be reimbursed.

Vermont officials have recently met with Hardwick’s town manager to discuss the feasibility of relocating the sewage plant, reported VTDigger recently.

Federal funds are becoming available for towns to work on flood mitigation and resilience of anything that may be impacted by future water-related weather events, even those that weren’t impacted by 2011’s hurricane Irene or the July and December 2023 storms.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
In Hardwick, a Lamoille Valley Rail Trail bridge, located along Route 15 East, has collapsed under the stress of a raging Lamoille River on July 10 and 11, 2023. It was one of two bridges damaged in that section of the trail, the last of which reopened in June 2024, though the trail was open to snow travelers during the winter.
photo by Tyler Molleur In Woodbury, water runs down Blake Hill Road, Monday night, July 11, 2023. Woodbury has yet to receive any of over $240,000 in promised FEMA reimbursement and just approved a $500,000 line of credit to cover expenses while they wait.

Despite everything that’s happened in the last year, towns continue to do the work necessary to help those who live, work and shop there.

The Cabot Public Library and the Flood Resiliency Task Force there have planned a July 13 Street Festival and Commemoration they call “After the Flood: A Wave of Gratitude.” Beginning at 1 p.m. there will be a community sing, then performances and opportunities to demonstrate what food resilience means. There will be free food, kids activities and a community art project too.

As always, the resilience of Vermonter’s shines through when disaster strikes.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
​In Hardwick, vehicles ma​ke their way along Wolcott Street ​in front of the fire station on July 11, 2023, as the Lamoille River ​overflows its banks. The town is now discussing options to move fire departmen, perhaps to a new public safety campus on Creamery Road, near the town garage.

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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