News Branch National Guard

National Guard aiding in rescue, recovery after flooding in Vermont

So far one person has died after a week of heavy rain and flooding.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
1st Lt. Paul Pennoyer, the head of the 172nd Military Police Detachment of the Vermont National Guard, coordinates with local search and rescue during flooding in Vermont. (Photo by Sgt. Denis Nunez, Vermont National Guard)

Dozens of soldiers and airmen with the Vermont National Guard are active in the state, trying to aid in rescue and relief efforts following severe rain that flooded large parts of the state this week.

75 members of the Vermont National Guard deployed throughout the state in the aftermath of the floods, both delivering supplies including clean water as well as trying to reach cut off communities. 

The storms and subsequent flooding accounted for one of the worst natural disasters in the state, with the state government saying the damage was the most severe since similarly damaging floods in 1927. Rivers overflowed, resulting in more than 100 rescue operations by first responders during the week as people worked to reach people stranded in cars. 

Subscribe to Task & Purpose Today. Get the latest military news and culture in your inbox daily.

Soldiers and airmen have been active in coordinating rescue efforts with urban search and rescue teams, as well as guiding traffic for evacuations. Military vehicles have been used to bring supplies to Federal Emergency Management Agency sites and traverse some flooded locations. 

Members of the National Guard also deployed on Thursday to 24 towns in Vermont’s northwest, towns that the state government said it has not heard from since the flooding began, according to Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison. The guardsmen will establish contact with them and see what assistance is needed. 

“Whatever it is — food, water, transportation, infrastructure or supplies — please make your needs known so we can start problem-solving with you,” Morrison said during a Friday news conference that included several state officials, including Gov. Phil Scott. Scott at the news conference.

So far only one death has been reported as a result of the floods in the state, a 63-year-old man who drowned in Barre, VT. A woman died in New York state from related floods there. The amount of damages and the number of people displaced by the storm are currently unclear. 

The New Hampshire National Guard also sent members to Vermont to assist in rescue and recovery. A Black Hawk helicopter with the 3rd Battalion of the 238th Aviation Regiment rescued three people earlier this week after ground and water routes were deemed unsafe. At least one Black Hawk from the New Hampshire guard remained in Vermont to help with operations. 

This isn’t the first time the National Guard has been mobilized in the wake of heavy rains and floods in the state. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in 2011, the Vermont National Guard was sent in to airlift supplies to hard-hit communities.

Heavy rains are expected to continue in the coming days, with a flash flood watch issued for Sunday in parts of Vermont. 

The latest on Task & Purpose