Lake Flooding Continues to Plague Vermont and New York

By | May 6, 2011

At one end of the Burlington, Vermont neighborhood, 16-year-old Nathan Shappy was filling sandbags to put around his family’s house. Nearby, Maria Spadanuda waded through 8-inch deep floodwaters surrounding her home, the one she was told she didn’t need flood insurance for when she bought it.

Across the street, sisters Deana Raymond and Donna Richard — wearing hip waders — waded down North Cove Road, through knee-deep water and rain that wouldn’t stop.

“It’s just devastating,” said Raymond, 47, who grew up on the street and was back Wednesday to help relatives cope with the deluge. “These houses have never taken on water before.”

Along Lake Champlain, people who’ve savored their lakefront views and easy access to the water are knee-deep in misery these days.

Fed by a steady diet of spring rains and melting runoff from snow-capped peaks in the Adirondacks and Green Mountains, the lake last week reached the highest level in its recorded history. On Wednesday, it continued to spill over into homes, neighborhoods and parks.

“Homeowners have lost a tremendous amount of property, and they’re demoralized,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin, who toured floodwater-damaged Route 2 in Milton on Wednesday.

In the north end neighborhood in Burlington where Shappy lives, streets have been flooded for nearly a week. Some houses have water only in the basement, thanks to a steady regimen of sandbagging and pumping out.

“We’re just putting sandbags around the house so it’ll keep the water from going in the house even more,” said Shappy, who was getting help from neighbors as he filled white bags with sand. “Then we have gas pumps keeping it out, trying to keep up with it.”

Spadanuda, a nurse practitioner at Fletcher Allen Health Care, stood on piled sandbags behind her home, describing what she’d been through since floodwaters rose up last Thursday.

“It’s really hard. I went from panic to confusion. And it’s still that way.

“There’s 3 and a half feet of water in my crawl space. I was told I didn’t need flood insurance when I bought this house. I have no coverage for this,” she said.

Raymond and Richard, who grew up in the neighborhood, said family members have been pitching in to help their parents, who still live on the street.

Their mother, who is 70, works at a neighborhood market and has to be there at 4 a.m. each day. So family members have been putting her in a rowboat and towing her from her house — which is surrounded by water — to dry land so she can get there on time.

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