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Brandon community meeting set for April 6 to talk about flooding

BRANDON — The days are getting longer and warmer, the snow is melting and soon we will have April showers — all signs that spring is on the way. But ice jams, snow melt and showers also raise the level of our streams and rivers. Our thoughts turn to the risk of flooding and the damage that may result.
With funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Shumlin administration, the Department of Housing and Community Development, other state agencies, and regional planning commissions are helping cities and towns analyze local flood risks and identify projects to help speed recovery in the event of a flood. This project is called the Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative, or VERI, and is modeled after a successful project in Bennington that helped the community quickly bounce back from Tropical Storm Irene and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in recovery costs.
The team is working in five pilot areas — Barre City and Town, Brandon, Brattleboro, Enosburg Village and Town, and Woodstock — to assess risk and develop a list of projects that, if implemented, would help roads remain clear after a flood. We hosted a community meeting last fall and have worked directly with local leaders and businesses to determine the locations of greatest risk, identify potential projects, and highlight the work communities have accomplished to reduce the impact of floods. The team is now wrapping up community-tailored vulnerability assessments and draft recommendations for projects designed to reduce threats to people, buildings, and infrastructure.
Brandon’s community meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 6, from 7-9 p.m., at the Brandon Town Hall. State officials will share what they’ve learned with residents and to gather input on the draft report and recommended projects. In Brandon, the team identified a number of opportunities to improve local policies, as well as projects to reduce the economic impacts of future floods — such as replacing the Neshobe River bridges at Route 53 in Forest Dale and at Wheeler Road. Other projects to help reduce damages to property and infrastructure include stabilizing the river bank and restoring the river’s access to undeveloped floodplain.
The draft recommendations and other resources will be available at the Department of Housing and Community Development’s website at Plan Today for Tomorrow’s Flood by late next week.
“We know everyone’s schedules are busy, so if you can’t join us at the meeting, you have until April 20 to review the report and send us your comments and suggestions,” said Housing and Community Development Commissioner Noelle MacKay.
While natural disasters are not preventable, the degree of destruction and devastation to our people and economy is. Gov. Shumlin, agencies across state government, and the regional planning commissions are committed to helping communities take steps to implement projects that will save lives, and protect jobs and our economy from future storms and floods.
Editor’s note: This story was provided by Noelle MacKay, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.

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