Friday June 28, 2013

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont braced Thursday for heavy rains that could drop up to 4 inches in some places and cause flooding in areas where the ground is already saturated after days of stormy weather that has already washed out some roads.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for much of Vermont and upstate New York from Thursday evening through Friday evening, and warned of localized flash floods and landslides. Parts of southern Vermont and upstate New York reported scattered thunderstorms by midafternoon Thursday.

Officials prepared for the possibility of flooding over the next 48 hours and planned to open Vermont’s Emergency Operations Center Thursday evening to offer assistance to towns that may need it.

"We’ve learned the hard way to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, referring to the state’s 2011 flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

He said he couldn’t predict where the rain and flooding might hit hardest and urged all Vermonters to be alert.

"We are all vulnerable," the governor said.

Emergency Management spokesman Mark Bosma said the department would have a conference call with local emergency management directors across the state to coordinate the response.

"The towns will do the initial response," he said. "If they need any additional resources they’ll contact us."

Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said the emergency operations center would remain open as needed, possibly through the weekend. The center also will have staff members from the Transportation Agency, the National Guard, agriculture and natural resources agencies, and the Department of Public Service.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture urged farmers and pet owners to take precautions ahead of the rains.

Farmers were urged to harvest early vegetable crops in flood plain fields that can be harvested, such as leafy greens. Producers were reminded that if the edible portion of any crop comes into contact with flood waters it is considered adulterated and cannot be sold.

Farmers should expect power outages and everyone should ensure properly wired generators are in good working order.

Livestock and poultry should be moved to higher ground out of the way of floodwaters.