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In one Richmond, Vermont neighborhood, an uneasy evening watching the floodwaters rise

A photo of three people, two on the ground and one on a porch, in front of brown water flooding a field and yard.
Elodie Reed
/
Vermont Public
Amy and Dacyn Channell, left and center, survey the rising waters from the Winooski River behind their house in Richmond on Monday. They ended up evacuating late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

We highly recommend you listen to this story, but a transcript is included below.

As the Winooski River swelled and jumped its banks Monday afternoon, neighbors in one Richmond neighborhood watched and waited to see how high the water would go.

All around the Volunteers Green park, adults, kids and dogs wandered up to the edge of the muddy water swirling around swing sets, dugouts and traffic signs. A farmer moved his tractors to higher ground. Local first responders monitored the scene. Some teens even brought out boogie boards.

One couple living along the park’s edge, Amy and Dacyn Channell, say the park does flood on a regular basis, but not quite like this. They wondered whether to stick it out or leave.

 A photo of brown waters rising beneath a swingset.
Elodie Reed
/
Vermont Public
The Volunteers Green in Richmond filled with waters from the Winooski River starting Monday afternoon. Residents living nearby had to evacuate late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

Amy: "The water came in pretty darn quick. It's usually starts on this end of the fields like over towards the water treatment facility, and it starts to trickle down this way. But as the river got higher, it's just kind of like, meeting and — the flooding is happening pretty quick."

Dacyn: "It floods at least twice a year almost every year, like clockwork. It's something that I've gotten used to in the seven years that I've lived here. You know, it's always come up here but not quite up here."

Amy: "We're currently just packing like, a quick escape bag, and have everything ready to go. And — but we were going to reach out to a few hotels to see if they accept pets and can let us stay for a day or so. Because from what our other neighbor said, once this floods and things slow down, it goes away pretty quick, so optimistic about that."

Dacyn: "So it’s kind of interesting, watching people on our street relive what happened before. Amy lived in Massachusetts for Irene, and I lived in Essex at the time, so I wasn't really affected by it. Nor was she. So this is kind of new... So we're just kind of playing it by ear at the moment, taking taking social cues from the neighbors. Like: they're making their plans, but they're not frantic about it. "

Follow Vermont Public's live updates about extreme flooding and its aftermath in Vermont, here.

Amy: "There's nothing I can do about it, so I have to let go of that... but like, the way – I'm a planner. So I just, having things ready to go when we have to go at a moment's notice, then that's the best I can do."

Dacyn: "I honestly am excited because I signed up in the Guard 26 years ago to help people. That's what I want to do. So I am waiting for my call to help. If it comes it comes if it doesn't, I can at least help my neighbors on my own. So that innate ability is there just waiting to activate it."

Amy: "It looks like we have a lakefront property … these are the times I wish I had a boat. Oh man. Yeah, so it's it's close. And there's quite a current that you can — it like it sounds like you're standing next to the river. I mean, you are technically standing next to the river right now! But I mean, it's like the sound of the rapids almost. It's like — Oh, it's right in the field. So that's crazy."

A drone shot of brown water flooding a park and neighborhood.
Richmond Fire Department
/
Courtesy
Floodwaters cover the Volunteers Green in Richmond on Tuesday morning.

The Channells, along with most of their neighbors, ended up evacuating late Monday night and early Tuesday morning after the fire chief suggested they think about leaving.

Amy, Dacyn and their pets Nelson, Boris and Marbles are staying at a friend’s house in St. Albans. As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dacyn had not yet been activated by the National Guard, but expected to be later today.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a message.

Corrected: July 11, 2023 at 12:51 PM EDT
This story has been updated with a correct spelling of the Channells' last name.
Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.

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