Severe storm knocks out power to thousands
By Josh O’Gorman
Staff Writer | June 24,2013
Alan J. Keays / Staff Photo
Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras, right, and another man deploy an inflatable dam in front of the downtown transit center on West Street during a rain storm Sunday.
A powerful summer storm tore through Rutland on Sunday evening, knocking down tree limbs and leaving nearly 9,000 households in the dark.
The storm hit the Rutland region around 5:30 p.m. with a sudden deluge of water, dumping about an inch of rain in 30 minutes, according to Kimberly McMahon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington.
The sudden storm prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash-flood warning for downtown Rutland. In response, the city Department of Public Works deployed a flood barricade at the entrance to the transit center.
“The barricade worked well today,” said a soaked-to-the-bone Christopher Louras, mayor of Rutland City, as he packed up the PVC barricade after the flooding subsided.
The flood water was so powerful it blew the manhole cover off at the intersection of Wales and West streets. According to Louras, there was flooding in the basement of the Asa Bloomer Building on Merchants Row, but initial reports indicated the water was coming up from the ground and not through the foundation.
The winds — estimated by the National Weather Service to be in excess of 58 mph — ripped thigh-thick tree branches from their trunks, tearing down power lines throughout the region. River Street was closed on either side of Meadow Street with tangled snarls of limbs and live wires.
As of 9 p.m. Sunday evening, Green Mountain Power reported nearly 7,900 customers were without power, with most of the outages in the Rutland region. Rutland City alone reported 2,167 households without electricity. Rutland Town reported 2,176 outages. Pittsford had 1,500 homes without power, while 800 customers in Proctor were in the dark.
The outage knocked out traffic signals around the city, but motorists successfully navigated the intersections, said Sgt. John Sly with the Rutland City Police Department.
“People are driving courteously and taking care at intersections,” Sly said. “In situations like this, people are usually pretty good about exercising caution.”
The storm kept the Rutland City Fire Department hopping. Initial reports to emergency services indicated multiple structure fires around the city, but only one was confirmed, in a warehouse at the intersection of Howe and Union streets. No injuries were reported in the fire.
“We’ve been responding to downed power lines, blown transformers and electrical service being ripped from the sides of buildings,” said Robert L. Schlachter, chief of the Rutland City Fire Department, which received mutual aid from firefighters from Rutland Town and West Rutland.
Electric customers can track outages online at wss.greenmountainpower.com/customers/outages.