Concordians join FEMA teams to aid in Vermont flooding

By Celeste Katz Marston
July 17, 2023

With Vermont battered by storm-inflicted floods that have already claimed at least one life, left hundreds of people stranded, and wreaked untold property damage, two of Concord’s public workers are on a rescue mission. 

Concord Assistant Fire Chief Walter Latta and Highway and Grounds Supervisor Aaron Miklosko deployed to the Green Mountain State with Massachusetts Task Force 1, FEMA Urban Search and Rescue.

The two left for Vermont July 9. It’s not clear when exactly they’ll be back, as brutal storms continue to batter the region — but it’s more than clear they’ve got their work cut out for them. 

Since arriving, according to Concord Communications Manager Donna McIntosh, Latta has served as a logistics specialist and on a boat crew. Miklosko, who’s on his first USAR mission, is also in a logistics specialist role. 

The two are working on rescue squads that have helped evacuate Vermonters (and pets) in flood-swept spots including Berlin, Cambridge, Colchester, and Montpelier.

Assistant Chief Latta is serving as a Logistics Specialist and on a boat crew during this mission, which he said via McIntosh comes during his 16th year on the FEMA team — and represents the worst flooding he’s seen. It’s Superintendent Milosko’s first deployment with a USAR team, and he is also assigned to a Logistic Specialist role. 

Massachusetts Task Force 1, headquartered in Beverly, is one of 28 such FEMA teams across the U.S. Their duties extend beyond search and rescue to providing medical care, stabilizing damaged buildings, and responding to hazardous materials incidents. 

“DPW Director Alan Cathcart and I are proud of Walter and Aaron for the work they are doing in Vermont, and I am pleased that our community can provide support to a state that is in so much need right now,”  said Concord Fire Chief Thomas Judge. “Mutual aid is a key component of both the fire service and emergency management, and we are proud to be able to support our Green Mountain neighbors in their time of need.”

Summer storms have slammed the region with flash flooding and tornado threats, alternating with clear days and soaring temperatures. President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the state on July 14. 
A 63-year-old man in Barre, Vt., just outside the capital city of Montpelier, drowned in his own basement last week while tending to his sump pump, while hundreds of others have been saved from flood zones by boat and helicopter.