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MANCHESTER — Heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in the Northshire of Bennington County overnight Thursday, with Manchester absorbing significant property damage from a reported 6 inches of rain.

That led to storm runoff rendering streets unpassable, streams and rivers jumping their banks and flood damage to homes and businesses.

The storm waters carved a deep channel into Rootville Road in Manchester, rendering it unpassable. Richville Road was closed off at East Manchester Road, and the waters dragged a good amount of stone and silt from Green Mountain Road, a private way, into Richville Road.

The damage to Rootville Road, which extends from East Manchester Road’s intersection with Depot Street into the Green Mountain National Forest, was of particular concern because it exposed town water lines. Crews were working to make the road passable, Manchester Town Manager John O’Keefe said.

“It’s not as bad as it was after Irene but it’s in the ballpark. The damage is very significant,” O’Keefe said. He said he’s heard about “an unbelievable number of wet basements.”

Manchester Department of Public Works employees were focused on repairing damage on Richville Road and the town-owned section of Natural Form Way, O’Keefe said.

It’s suspected that Bourn Brook may have changed course, leading water over its banks and into the Natural Form and Green Mountain Estates properties, and the town is evaluating the situation and what it might do to protect property, he said.

“The water’s still flowing,” O’Keefe said. “It’s possible new flow patterns were created as a result of this deluge.”

Sections of Main and Depot streets were turned into fast-flowing streams. As of Friday morning, cars and trucks were still splashing their way through storm water that had collected in front of McDonald’s on Depot Street.

Depot Street Burgers, at the corner of Depot Street and Richville Road, reported on Facebook that it was flooded. Manchester Country Club’s Facebook page said the course was saturated, and the first floor of the clubhouse was flooded.

As of 8:30 a.m. Friday, National Weather Service data showed that Manchester had received 6 inches of rain. Stratton Mountain and Arlington got nearly 4 inches.

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“[Town DPW director] Jeff Williams made the point these storms are happening with a frequency that just didn’t happen in the past,” O’Keefe said.

The town’s StreetFest, which had been scheduled for Friday night, has been postponed until a later date, O’Keefe said. Overtime has been authorized for DPW workers to clean up the damage over the weekend, he added.

All along the Battenkill, along Sunderland Hill Road and Route 7A in Manchester, Sunderland and Arlington, the river spilled over its banks, turning fields and pastures into lakes.

A Sandgate woman, a juror in an ongoing criminal trial in Bennington Superior Court, asked to withdraw from jury duty Friday morning after her road got washed out in the storm. Rainwater had also flooded her basement, Judge Cortland Corsones said, leaving her unable to continue hearing the county’s first jury trial since the pandemic hit Vermont.

The storm’s effects appeared to be less severe in Bennington, where there were no reports of damage, Town Manager Stuart Hurd said.

“We’ve gotten a lot of rain this month, but last night was not as damaging as (the rain) a week and a half ago,” Hurd said.

In eastern New York, towns such as Hoosick Falls and Cambridge were fortunate that most of the heaviest rain missed them.

“We didn’t get it that bad,” Hoosick Falls Mayor Rob Allen said. “Our DPW superintendent was on top of the hill in the village and looking at the radar, and then it seemed to literally split in half around us.”

Allen said that other places, like Greenwich in Washington County, had 3 inches of rain. This came on top of a month that has been one of the wettest in history.

“We got lucky,” Allen said. “We need more of those breaks.”

Banner reporters Adam Samrov and Tiffany Tan contributed to this story.

Greg Sukiennik has worked at all three Vermont News & Media newspapers and was their managing editor from 2017-19. He previously worked for ESPN.com, for the AP in Boston, and at The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass.


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