Flooding from Irene persists along East Coast

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On Tuesday night, 11 towns — Cavendish, Granville, Hancock, Killington, Mendon, Marlboro, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Stockbridge, Strafford and Wardsboro — were cut off from the outside.

But by Wednesday morning, all but one of the communities — Wardsboro— had been reached by ground crews, emergency management officials said.

And it’s hoped that Wardsboro can be reached Wednesday morning, said Emergency Management spokesman Robert Stirewalt

He said the crude roads are not for general use and are passable only by emergency vehicles.

Vermont National Guard choppers made three drops in Killington-Mendon, Pittsfield and Rochester on Tuesday while 10 other towns received truck deliveries of food, blankets, tarps and water.

Eight Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters from the Illinois National Guard are expected to arrive Wednesday to bolster the number of flights.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate told CBS’ “The Early Show” on Wednesday morning that a drawdown in assistance funds will have no negative impact on the agency’s efforts to help stricken Eastern Seaboard states. The agency has less than $800 million left in its disaster coffers.

“We’re going to do what we’re supposed to do,” he said.

“We start with lifesaving and look at the critical needs, the power outages and recovery. We are still in very much a rescue operation. Yesterday, still, rescue operations were going on here in New York.”

Mr. Fugate said FEMA’s current focus is on Hurricane Irene recovery efforts and said it must also gird for any new disasters.

“We don’t know what’s coming down the line,” he said.

Up to 11 inches of rain triggered the deluges, which knocked houses off their foundations, destroyed covered bridges and caused earthquake-style damage to infrastructure all over Vermont.

Vermont residents trapped in inaccessible communities used cellphones and computers to reach out to others.

Wendy Pratt, another of the few townspeople able to communicate with the outside world, posted an update on Facebook using a generator and a satellite Internet connection. She sketched a picture of both devastation and New England neighborliness.

“People have lost their homes, their belongings, businesses … the cemetery was flooded and caskets were lost down the river. So many areas of complete devastation,” Ms. Pratt wrote. “In town there is no cell service or internet service - all phones in town are out. We had a big town meeting at the church at 4 this afternoon to get any updates.”

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