By Kirk Carapezza
Eighteen months after Tropical Storm Irene, the Vermont House has passed a bill that aims to help towns protect against future floods. The measure approved this morning would require municipal and regional planning commissions to plan for future flood resiliency as part of their plans.
Cities and towns continue to debate whether to rebuild in a smarter, safer way, or to buy back properties and leave them undeveloped. Many towns have put together hazard mitigation plans in order to be eligible for federal funding.
Rep. David Deen, D-Westminster, was the lead sponsor of the bill. He says his legislation would allow those mitigation strategies to be referenced or incorporated into towns’ resiliency preparation.
The bill also calls for protection and restoration of floodplains and forests, which help to deal with flooding and river erosion.
On Tuesday, the state of Vermont announced that it will cover 75 percent of the cost of buying out homes that FEMA has deemed ineligible for a federal buyout. “In this case, we really do feel that FEMA rejected common sense,” Governor Peter Shumlin said. “These are folks that live in floodplains, that lost their belongings, that lost their houses – houses that never should be put back their again because we know they’ll be flooded again.”
“When we say rebuild better than the way Irene found us, we mean not rebuilding in places that are going to be flooded because of the climate change world that we’re living in,” said Shumlin.