Planning for Flood Recovery and Long-Term Resilience in Vermont: Smart Growth Approaches for Disaster Resilient Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have partnered to provide Vermont with technical assistance in planning for long-term flood resilience. The goal of the collaboration is to incorporate smart growth principles into local policies, development regulations, and hazard mitigation plans. The project is a product of EPA's year-long Smart Growth Implementation Assistance project in Vermont.

Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development, along with the Agency of Natural Resources, Agency of Transportation, and the Mad River Valley Planning District, initiated this project by requesting assistance from EPA and FEMA. The agencies and communities sought help with incorporating smart growth and resilience approaches into their development plans, regulations, and hazard mitigation plans in order to increase their flood resilience.

After a brief contextual overview, the report outlines broad approaches for flood resilience and disaster recovery, followed by a discussion of local and state policy options and strategies.

Specific local land use policy options to improve flood resilience are organized into four categories, representing different geographic areas in a community:

•River Corridors: Conserve land and discourage development in particularly vulnerable areas along river corridors such as flood plains and wetlands.
•Vulnerable Settlements: Where development already exists in vulnerable areas, protect people, buildings, and facilities to reduce future flooding risk.
•Safer Areas: Plan for and encourage new development in areas that are less vulnerable to future floods.
•The Whole Watershed: Implement enhanced stormwater management techniques to slow, spread, and infiltrate floodwater.

A concurrently produced tool from the EPA, the Flood Resilience Checklist is available in Appendix C. Many of the land use policies, regulations, and strategies outlined in this report are listed in Appendix D, which can support any community in enhancing their flood resilience.

In 2010, EPA and FEMA signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that makes it easier for the two agencies to work together to help communities become safer, healthier, and more resilient. The agencies collaborate to help communities hit by disasters rebuild in ways that protect the environment, create long-term economic prosperity, and enhance neighborhoods. FEMA and EPA also help communities incorporate strategies that improve quality of life and direct development away from vulnerable areas into their hazard mitigation plans. EPA and FEMA are using the lessons they learn from working together under this MOA and with other federal agencies to better coordinate assistance to communities on hazard mitigation planning and post-disaster recovery. The MOA also helps the agencies work together on climate change adaptation.

In order to maintain access to this website, we are linking to an archived version of the website saved on January 24, 2017. The original link can be found here: 

Publication Date: July 2014

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