Climate change is already affecting weather patterns in Vermont. Since 1965, annual precipitation has increased by 7 inches, and the number of days per year with precipitation of 1 inch or more has nearly doubled. These trends are expected to continue. Heavy rainfall events are expected to occur more often, which increases risk of flooding, damage to transportation infrastructure and buildings, water and crop contamination, wind damage, and power outages.
Vermont had 18 federally declared disasters from 2007 to 2016, almost twice as many as during the preceding 10 years. Most of these disasters were a result of severe storms and flooding. Tropical Storm Irene was the most notable of these, and was associated with:
- Six deaths
- Mold growth in water-logged buildings
- Extensive property and infrastructure damage, power outages, and other service disruptions
- Wellheads submerged and contaminated by floodwaters
- 30 public water systems issued Boil Water Notices
- 17 wastewater treatment facilities reported compromised operations
- Septic system failures, fuel spills, other hazardous contamination
- Over $10 million estimated damage to crops and farmlands
Aside from the immediate risks to life and property during extreme weather events, ongoing risks after a disaster include electric shock from downed power lines, managing hot and cold temperatures when the power is out, carbon monoxide poisoning from improper use of generators, spoiled food and water contamination, mold growth in buildings, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Vermont Emergency Management has resources for individuals, families, communities, and businesses to prepare for extreme weather events and other emergencies:
- Build an emergency supply kit, including a three day supply of water and non-perishable food, a flashlight with extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, and a first aid kit.
- Find more community preparedness resources.
- View the State Emergency Operations Plan and Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Communities should adopt Local Hazard Mitigation Plans, Local Emergency Operations Plans, and other plans to help reduce vulnerabilities and prepare to respond during and after a disaster.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) provides great information and updates on road conditions during storms. Follow VTrans on Twitter or learn more about winter weather information including plow information, highway webcams, and more at the VTrans Winter Weather Central page.
Here are some organizations that provide assistance to communities:
- Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units
- Community Resilience Organizations (CROs)
- Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs)
- Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs)
- Voluntary and Community Organizations Active in Disasters (VOADs & COADs)
- Resilient Vermont
Water utilities can prepare for climate change using resources from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU).