Since 2011, $36 million has been awarded to Vermont cities and towns to make areas of repetitive damage more resistant to flood waters and other hazards – which will save the communities, state, and federal government money in future repair costs.
Below are selected projects that illustrate the creative and no-nonsense solutions to problem areas in Vermont communities.
Number of Purchases: 149
Cost to Date: $20,000,000
Since 2011, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has provided $20 million to municipalities to purchase and remove 149 structures in floodplains to prevent repetitive damage and create safer, uninhabited flood zones.
Projects are designed to improve stream flows and water retention. All property buyouts are done with the mutual consent of the current property owner.
In the spring of 2021, the Vermont Legislature approved $4.6 million to establish the state Flood Resilient Communities Fund. That fund will supplement HMGP funds to enable the state to purchase more flood-prone properties and take on other mitigation projects.
One example below: A home in West Windsor that has since been purchased under the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The property was only accessible through an area of frequent flooding.
Project: Property Buyouts and Flood Debris Racks
Cost: $1,021,304 (6 buyouts, 2 infrastructure improvements)
Homes and public infrastructure along the Gunners Brook in the Brook Street/Harrington Avenue section of Barre were frequently impacted by floodwaters due to surges and ice jams in the area. Hazard mitigation funds allowed the city to purchase and demolish five flood-prone structures and install flood-debris racks upstream. The racks are designed to catch and break up ice before it can impact infrastructure downstream.
Project: Property Buyouts and an Overflow Culvert
Total Cost: $2,161,214.00 (6 buyouts, 1 infrastructure)
The Neshobe River along Newton Road frequently threatened structures when heavy rains caused the river to surge. The town of Brandon addressed the problem by re-engineering the river, purchasing impacted structures, and removing them from the inundation area. These changes do not prevent the river from spilling its banks, but it water now overflows harmlessly into an open field, and ice from jams can be plowed off roads.
The photo below shows an overflow culvert installed under Center Street/Route 7 in Brandon using HMGP funds.
Project: Demolition and Floodplain Restoration
Cost: $268,784 (1 buyout, 2 infrastructure)
Brattleboro Housing Authority utilized Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) funding to demolish ten senior housing structures that were damaged during Tropical Storm Irene, relocation of residents into locations without flood risk, and a floodplain restoration project to reducing flooding in the area and downstream on the Whetstone. Two other projects are awaiting award nearby on the Whetstone, a floodplain restoration project upstream of downtown Brattleboro and a project with the Vermont Agency of Transportation for resilience improvements on Route 9.
Project: Bridge Upsizing and Floodplain Restoration
Total Cost: $526,084 (2 infrastructure)
The town of Cambridge utilized Hazard Mitigation funds to prevent repetitive damage and improve a popular recreation and tourist area of town. The Cambridge Greenway/Railroad Bridge over the Brewster River was routinely impacted by floodwaters as it was undersized and below the 100 and 10-year flood elevations. The bridge was replaced with an adequately sized and proportioned bridge (photo right) and the floodplain in the vicinity of the bridge was restored.
Project: Upsizing Culverts
Total Cost: $96,750 (1 infrastructure)
Not all mitigation projects are as involved as replacing a bridge, purchasing flood-prone properties, or installing debris racks. The town of Enosburg addressed repetitive flood damage along the Tyler Branch (river) with the installation of an upgraded culvert running under Tyler Branch Road.
Project: Flood Resilience Project
Cost: $1,572,335 (1 infrastructure)
The Town of Middlebury utilized HMGP grant funds to complete a large-scale flood resilience project, including the removal of sediment deposits from flood chutes, bank armoring, repair and extension to an existing floodwall.
Project: Roadway Elevation
Total Cost: $84,518 (1 infrastructure)
If you live on a River Road, anywhere, you have likely experienced floods of one kind or another. Residents along River Road in Moretown have seen their share, including the homeowners in the above photo from 2010 that saw an ice jam threaten their property. Using Hazard Mitigation funds the town raised the level of the road, providing more of a buffer between overflow from the Winooski river, the road, and homes along the river, as seen in the photo below.
Project: Upsizing Culverts
Cost: $635,671 (11 infrastructure)
Following Tropical Storm Irene, the Town of Pawlet utilized HMGP to upsize ten culverts throughout their community to allow for greater passage of flood waters in high flow events.
Project: Wastewater Treatment Plant Generators
Total Cost: $229,726 (2 buyouts,1 infrastructure)
The City of Rutland utilized HMGP grant funds for property buyouts, and to purchase generators for their municipal wastewater treatment plant. These generators have enabled the plant to maintain operations continuously during power outages.
For more information on the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and how your community may benefit from funding, contact state Hazard Mitigation Officer Stephanie Smith at Stephanie.A.Smith@vermont.gov or (802) 989-6793
You can also visit the VEM Hazard Mitigation site at: vem.vermont.gov/funding/mitigation