On August 23, 2023

Local officials lobby for federal money to cover larger culverts


By Polly Mikula

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, U.S. Representative Becca Balint, D-Vt., met local officials at the Killington Welcome Center before heading out for a tour of flood damage in the eastern sections of East Mountain Road and connecting roads, including Bear Mountain Road and Trailside Drive where the group got out to see the damages up close. 

Flooding in Killington began July 7 with mudslides when Killington received between about 6 inches of rain in two hours. Route 4 (a state road) and the East Mountain Road area in Killington saw the worst damage then and subsequent rains further overwhelmed culverts and destroyed roads in that area. While crews have been working diligently since to reopen roads and make access to homes passable, the damage is still easy to see.

“Most of the culverts never clogged,” said Killington Selectman James Haff. “There was just too much water so when it got full, the water came up over it. So the culvert did not fail; it just wasn’t big enough to handle all that water.”

“All our culverts after (Tropical Storm])Irene were upped to the 25-year flood,” Haff said. “So now, we have Nicole Kesselring, from Enman Kesselring Engineering, upping us to the 50- to 100-year flood,” he said. “So what we really need is help from the government to say this is allowed to happen.”

The problem, Haff said, is that when the town enlarged the culverts after Irene, “some of those upgrades were not approved,” and the expense fell back on local taxpayers. 

“We believe going to the 50-100 year flood [size culverts] is needed to take care of the infrastructure we have,” Haff continued. 

Haff and all local officials on the tour hope that Balint can help change the federal funding qualifications to include upgrades that allow towns better plan for the likelihood of future flooding; rather than simply replace existing culverts with the same size that were over-run during this storm — and, therefore, are likely to be over-run again.

“The rain keeps coming, we keep having more mudslides, we keep having more washouts,” said Balint, “so we’re really trying to figure out how to work with FEMA to expand [aid], and I know that’s on everybody’s mind.”

The tour also stopped at Bear Mountain and the Skyeship Base Lodge, which suffered extensive damage and has been gutted, including the bathrooms, explained Killington Ski Resort Communication Director Amy Laramie. 

Laramie said the resort was working to get everything fixed ahead of the Spartan race at Bear Mountain, Sept. 16-17. 

Snowshed, Ramshead and K-1 Lodges were only minorly affected and remained functional for summer mountain bikers.

After visiting Killington, Balint toured damages on Clover Street in Rutland, where the water reached chest-height in some areas.

While the worst of the damage was fairly isolated, those affected are likely to be left with fewer resources as that flooding doesn’t qualify for FEMA as it’s considered a separate storm with total damage below the necessary threshold. 

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