RIPTON, Vt. (AP) – When Marguerite Searle left her home overlooking the East Middlebury River on Vermont 125 at 3:30 Wednesday morning to go to work at Middlebury College, it wasn’t raining.

But when she got home at about 1 p.m. the river had covered the roadway and gone back down, the eastbound lane was completely destroyed, a car had been washed into a ditch below her house and she had been forced to follow a 16-mile detour home to get around the closed highway.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Searle, who had to park and walk the final several hundred yards to her home, which did not appear to be damaged.

The flash floods that hit parts of southeastern Addison County Wednesday morning followed at least 3 to 4 inches of rain that fell onto already saturated soil in about two hours on Wednesday morning.

“We had some unconfirmed reports of 6 to 7 inches of rain,” said Andy Nash, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office at the Burlington International Airport.

No injuries have been reported.

A number of East Middlebury residents were evacuated from their homes for several hours Wednesday morning as a precaution. At mid-afternoon, officials were evacuating 60 campers and a 30 staff members from the Silver Towers Camp in Ripton. Later Wednesday, Branbury State Park on Lake Dunmore in Salisbury was evacuated as well, officials said.

Vermont Emergency Management reported that roads were closed in the Addison County towns of Goshen, Ripton, Leicester and Hancock. In Caledonia County, a number of roads were closed in Danville.

There’s was no damage estimate or any idea when the closed roads will be reopened.

And the flooding danger isn’t over, officials said. For parts of Vermont July was the wettest on record and this year will be among the 10 wettest on record, Nash said.

Nash said that afternoon and evening thunderstorms were being predicated through the end of the week. The thunderstorms aren’t likely to move much.

“If a thunderstorm pops up and it’s over you there’s going to be a lot of rain that’s going to fall. We’ve got a few more days with risk of flooding,” Nash said.

On Wednesday, Vermont’s congressional delegation asked President Bush to declare the state a disaster area because of flooding over the last month. Such a declaration would make the state eligible for special disaster relief funds.

While the flooding wasn’t as extreme in New Hampshire, the heavy rains prompted the National Forest Service to urge visitors to use extreme caution near streams.

In Vermont, the storm and flooding was at its most severe midmorning. Nash said the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning at about 8:20 a.m. Reports of flooding started about 45 minutes later.

By midday, the East Middlebury River, while still swollen and brown, was largely back within its banks.

A bridge over that river was closed after the waters washed away supports leading to the bridge on one side. It caused the pavement to buckle on one end.

Middlebury Police Sgt. Ed Cyr, standing at the damaged bridge on Lower Plains Road in East Middlebury at about noon, said the river had gone down eight feet in two hours.

Emergency Management stationed swift water rescue teams in Stowe and St. Johnsbury as a precaution. By late Wednesday afternoon their services hadn’t been needed.

The flooding made it hard to reach Ripton from the outside. Route 125 was closed in both directions from the village. The only way in and out was through a series of back roads through Lincoln.


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