Man drowns in home, marking Vermont’s 1st recorded death from recent flooding

By KATHY McCORMACK

Associated Press

Published: 07-14-2023 3:00 PM

A man who died as a result of a drowning accident in his home is Vermont’s first death related to recent storms and historic flooding, the state’s emergency management agency said.

Stephen Davoll, 63, of Barre, died on Wednesday, said Mark Bosma, spokesperson for Vermont Emergency Management.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner investigated the death, in cooperation with local police, Bosma said in a news release late Thursday afternoon. He said Vermonters are urged to continue to take extra care as they return to their homes and repair damage.

“The loss of a Vermonter is always painful, but it is particularly so this week,” Vermont U.S. Sen. Peter Welch said in statement.

It was the second flood-related death stemming from a storm system and epic flooding in the Northeast this week. The first was in New York — a woman whose body was found after she was swept away in Fort Montgomery, a small Hudson River community about 45 miles north of New York City.

More rain came through the region Thursday evening. There were no reports of any flash flooding from the storm, the emergency management agency said. A tornado warning was issued for parts of the state and Vermont. There were high winds, but no confirmation of a tornado and no major damage reports.

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As floodwaters receded, the good news was that there were no new rescue missions, dams were holding up and more roads reopened. The bad news was that the storms aren’t over. More rain was expected Friday, Sunday, and into next week.

“The period we are more concerned about is Sunday because that could be more widespread and heavier, but not nearly on the scale of what we saw earlier in the week,” National Weather Service meteorologist Seth Kutikoff said.

Gov. Phil Scott said it’s important for Vermonters to be vigilant, and that includes not going into the water.

“We’ve seen many pictures on social media of kids swimming in floodwaters. This is not typical rainwater — it’s filled with chemicals, oil, waste, and more. It’s simply not safe,” he said.

Other New England states to the south were also drying out, including Connecticut, where officials warned boaters and others about dangerous debris in the Connecticut River, including large trees. A dock with several boats attached was washed away in Glastonbury, just south of Hartford, and was seen floating down the river a few towns away.

In Vermont, communities were cleaning up from the floods that were more destructive in some places than 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene and regarded as the worst natural disaster since the 1927 floods, which killed dozens of people and caused widespread destruction.

Transportation officials were moving equipment to areas that were considered more flood-prone to prepare for more storms as they continued to evaluate damage, including to rail lines. Amtrak and other railroad service has been suspended.

Scott submitted a request for a major disaster declaration to President Joe Biden. “It’s separate from, and in addition to, the federal emergency declaration the president already signed” on Tuesday, he said. If approved, the declaration would provide federal support for recovering communities.

In Vermont’s small state capital of Montpelier, where the swollen Winooski River had flooded downtown, the elevator at City Hall was damaged, making the building inaccessible, spokesperson Evelyn Prim said.

“Cleanup from the hazardous floodwater damage in City Hall is expected to take several months. Because of this, City Hall will be closing until further notice,” she said.

Offers of help poured in, including free pet food from an animal shelter in Morrisville and a donation collection for water and nonperishable food items at the University of Vermont. A Vermont Main Street Flood Relief Fund was set up to help small businesses and the Vermont Community Foundation established a fund to help longer-term efforts for people and communities. An annual concert, the Do Good Fest in Montpelier, will be livestreamed and act as a fundraiser.

“One of the defining truths about Vermont is that Vermonters look out for one another,” said Dan Smith, the foundation’s CEO. “We saw it during the pandemic; we saw it during Tropical Storm Irene.”

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