Major flooding has hit much of central and northeastern Vermont after torrential overnight rain.
Many major roads are closed this morning, and the Winooski River is menacing downtown Montpelier and Waterbury, the National Weather Service said.
The National Weather Service said Winooski River water was on State Street in downtown Montpelier early this morning and evacuations were taking place.
There was also major flooding in Barre, where water raced down Main Street and swift water rescues were in progress in the predawn hours, the weather service said.
Major flooding is expected this morning along the Passumpsic River in and near St. Johnsbury, the National Weather Service said.
The National Weather Service said the flooding might be worse than the severe floods of 1973, one of the worst on record.
Vermont Emergency Management advises motorists to refrain from driving across flooded roads.
“Floodwaters can create unseen washouts and in flash flooding the current can be extremely strong — strong enough to wash away you and your car,” the agency said. “Most flooding deaths occur when motorists drive through floodwaters.”
Residents who evacuate their homes should turn off their circuit breaker before leaving, and have their electrical system inspected by a professional before they return, the agency said.
Vermont Emergency Management said many major roads are closed due to flooding, including U.S. 2 near East Montpelier, Plainfield and Danville, Vermont 14 near Barre and Vermont 12 between Montpelier and Northfield.
Emergency shelters are open at the National Life Building in Montpelier and Barre Auditorium, Vermont Emergency Management said.
State offices have been advised to operate on a reduced workforce until at least 10 a.m. today. State workers in Caledonia, Orange and Washington counties have been ordered to follow the procedure until 12 p.m. today.
The order does not extend to “essential personnel,” such as Corrections, Institutions, Public Safety and Transportation Maintenance workers.
The flooding came after severe storms caused tornado warnings and widespread damage from wind and hail.The threat is not over. Showers and thunderstorms, some with torrential rain, are likely to redevelop over Vermont today, threatening renewed flooding.