Heavy storms on Friday afternoon created washouts and extensive pooling in Springfield, disrupting traffic, trapping disabled vehicles and necessitating the evacuation of a six-story apartment building.
The Springfield Fire Department responded to an alarm at approximately 2:30 Friday afternoon, July 27. A drainage basin near the bottom of Grove Street had become plugged, and water quickly flooded 1 Mineral St., also known as the Louis Whitcomb Building. The building is owned by the Springfield Housing Authority (SHA).
The first floor of the six-story complex had “water entering rapidly with impinging levels reaching well over four feet,” all according to a press release from Springfield Fire Chief Russ Thompson.
Crews worked to divert water from the building using three rows of pressurized large hose. The water buckled steel entry doors to the electrical service room, knocking out power, according to the chief.
The building’s occupancy is 72 residents, according to the fire chief. First-floor occupants were moved to a safe area as a result of the flooding. Responders performed welfare checks on residents of higher floors. Two occupants were trapped in an elevator, but were safe, Thompson said.
Eventually, with the storm easing and as the water receded, an evaluation of damage to the building determined that all occupants would be displaced.
The staff of the Springfield Housing Authority did “outstanding work” in assisting occupants in connecting with family members, Thompson said. Other occupants, depending on their needs, were taken to Springfield Hospital or Springfield Health and Rehabilitation Center on Chester Road.
The Red Cross and Precision Valley Recovery Team, Springfield’s local sheltering resource, were called to establish a shelter at 80 Main St., another Springfield Housing Authority Building, to facilitate a similar environment for those displaced and in need of shelter.
Water rushes through the intersection of Grove and South streets. Courtesy / Justine Wharton-Black
Vermont Emergency Management and the Division of Fire Safety assisted to streamline access to state electrical inspectors, which should reduce displacement time for the occupants, Thompson said.
The Whitcomb Building has been previously affected by flooding on Mineral Street. In 2016, residents were evacuated in a similar flooding incident that damaged several units at a cost of $175,613, according to a September 2016 SHA financial statement and independent audit report.
It is unknown how long the occupants of the Whitcomb Building will be displaced by this round of flooding. At this time, Thompson said, best case projections would be early to middle of next week.
Elsewhere in town, streets were affected by the flooding. Gulf Street had "a serious collapse" as the road became undermined during the torrential downpour, according to the Springfield Police Department.
The police department advised residents at approximately 8:30 p.m. Friday that Main Street and Clinton Street had reopened to traffic, following heavy flooding.
-- TORY DENIS
Editor's Note: This story was updated on Sunday, July 29.