U.S. EPA uses Vermont flood planning to help others
MONTPELIER -- Communities across the country will be able to help prepare for future floods with tools and practices developed in Vermont's Mad River Valley in the aftermath of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday.
In a report and checklist, the EPA released some of the details of flood planning being done in the towns of Waitsfield, Warren, Fayston and Moretown so those ideas could be used elsewhere.
The EPA worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state in Irene's aftermath to prepare for future storms. Climate change is expected only to increase the number of flood events in the northeast, experts say.
Some of the items in the checklist include asking communities if they have identified areas prone to flooding, if they have hazard mitigation plans or if they have taken steps to buy flood-prone properties.
In the aftermath of Irene, the state of Vermont asked the EPA for help creating a long-term plan to help reduce damage from future flooding, said Faith Ingulsrud, the planning coordinator at the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.
"We selected the Mad River Valley as the pilot project area so we could focus on real communities, hear from real people and be talking about some real land and not in an ivory tower," Ingulsrud said.
"It really was more about an analysis of what's going on there and hearing from people about what's possible," she said.
Almost before Irene's floodwaters receded in 2011, state officials began talking about the need to be ready for the next storm. Some of those ideas are played out in the EPA report, including discouraging development in vulnerable areas such as flood plains and wetlands.
The plans developed by the communities include zoning changes, reducing stream-bank erosion and a number of other measures to reduce stormwater runoff. Waitsfield and Moretown are moving town offices out of flood-prone areas.
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