State law mandates that Vermont towns update their town plan and zoning and hazard mitigation documents every 5 years and represents an opportunity for communities to organize for flood resiliency. We are not necessarily stuck with the damage caused by flooding, but have choices in how we occupy the landscape and can learn from our past mistakes in fighting with Mother Nature.
We all enjoy Vermont; connected by our climate and communities and the Green Mountains. Our understanding of the flooding issues that we have in common in our landscape is just as important as understanding the rivers and streams that flow through our communities. The Vermont Rivers Program’s goals and objectives focus on resolving human conflicts with rivers and streams to address our common public safety problems and to work with Mother Nature to avoid repeated flood costs.
Vermont struggles with flooding as its most common community disaster on both small to large scales. After Tropical Storm Irene, Vermonters pulled together to rebuild. Future community flood resiliency planning is about joining hands along the river to avoid future flood costs. Community planning for flood resiliency is a win-win-win proposition for our economic viability and environmental values, and must start by dealing with the consequences of our historic community development patterns along streams and rivers. The State of Vermont has passed legislation, rules and initiatives to unite us in long-term community problem solving rather than divide us in seeking unwarranted short-term solutions at one very specific site or locale at the expense of neighbors further downstream.
Vermont towns are exploring community flood resiliency initiatives that require citizen input and resolve to achieve sound planning, future funding and ultimately implementing good watershed outcomes. Please connect with your neighbors on the river and participate in community planning to organize flood resiliency initiatives in your town. These efforts can include working with your regional planning commission on updating your town bridge and culvert inventory, updating your town plan and zoning and hazard mitigation documents, and conducting stream geomorphic assessments to develop river corridor plans. These planning tools can put us in a much better position to review community flood resiliency in the context of where flooding occurs with the goal of saving lives and reducing future economic impacts in the next flood.