Flooding is the region’s and state’s most prominent hazard. Floods have destroyed homes, businesses, roads, railroads and bridges. Flooding has hit the region in the past, and it will again in the future. Flooding can happen any time of year – intense summer thunderstorms, tropical remnants in the fall, ice jams in winter and spring snowmelt. Be ready for floods! There is considerable evidence to support that floods are increasing in frequency and severity. It is important for towns and their residents to lessen flood damage by generally refraining from building or filling in floodplains and near stream channels; properly constructing and maintaining culverts, roads and ditches; and requiring private ponds to be constructed to avoid failure.
Flood Ready Vermont has lots of useful information for community leaders and planners including:
- Community Reports– summaries of risk data and community efforts
- Vermont Flood Ready Atlas – online map with popup reports
- Update Your Plans– municipal development planning and other community efforts
- Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF)– qualify for more aid after a disaster
- ERAF Summary Report– community mitigation actions and ERAF rate
- Get Help– links to people, organizations, training and other resources
Flood Maps and River Corridors
FEMA has mapped a variety of flood hazard areas, and Vermont has gone further and also is mapping areas along smaller streams and river corridors where erosion is a greater risk than the inundation shown on the FEMA maps.
To look at the official FEMA flood map for your area, go to the FEMA Map Service Center and search by address in the upper left. This site is difficult and slow but the online map below shows flood data for our region and includes both official and unofficial non-digital data. To look at additional areas in Vermont that may be in danger from flooding and erosion, go visit the State’s flood hazard section.
Vermont has also completed its own flood hazard mapping through the identification of river corridors. A River Corridor includes the meander belt of a stream or river and a buffer of 50 feet. The River’s program has developed river corridors for streams draining at least 2 square miles. The rest of the mapped streams have a 50′ buffer from the top of bank. The official map is available below through the online viewer. River Corridor as defined in Vermont statute:
“River Corridor” means the land area adjacent to a river that is required to accommodate the dimensions, slope, planform, and buffer of the naturally stable channel and that is necessary for the natural maintenance or natural restoration of a dynamic equilibrium condition, as that term is defined in section 1422 of this title, and for minimization of fluvial erosion hazards, as delineated by the Agency of Natural Resources in accordance with river corridor protection procedures. 10 V.S.A. Chapter 32 § 752. Definitions
River corridors minimally encompass the meandering of a river in a least erosive form. They are drawn with the expectation that new and existing structures outside the corridor may be protected from lateral channel migration using bank stabilization practices without creating new or additional hazards. Within a river corridor, existing infrastructure and improved property may be at a heightened risk from erosion and be more likely to require river management to protect over time.
Other River Corridor Links
- Flood Hazard and River Corridor Protection Procedure – This is set of procedures that the state will follow when reviewing projects under state programs such as Act 250 or municipally exempt activities. The state is working to develop a municipal model for this language.
- Flood Hazard Area & River Corridor Rule: activities exempt from municipal regulation
- ANR General Permit for Flood Hazard Areas & River Corridors – An ANR General Permit for activities exempt from municipal regulation in Flood Hazard Areas and River Corridors. These activities include state-owned and operated institutions and facilities, accepted agricultural and silvicultural practices, and power generating and transmission facilities regulated under 30 V.S.A. §§ 248 and 248a.
- General Permit – APPLICATION FORM
- Floodplain – REGISTRATION FORM
- Individual Permit – APPLICATION FORM
The flood web-map viewer below shows official River Corridors for the state and FEMA flood hazard data for Windsor and Rutland counties as well as unofficial FEMA data for Orange and Addison Counties. Please note that if you live in an Orange County town that borders Windsor County, the effective dates of the Windsor flood map panels will overlap into Orange County. It will look like you have 2007 data available but this is not the case. There are no planned updates for Orange County (flood maps circa 1970s-1990s).
Flood Insurance and Regulations
Every town in the region participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by regulating development at least in the FEMA designated flood zones. Anyone in the region can buy flood insurance, and those living near a river or stream should seriously consider this insurance, even if not required, since a significant amount of flood damage in Vermont has occurred outside of mapped flood zones. Homeowners’ policies never cover flood damage. To find out about your local flood regulations, contact your town zoning administrator or administrative officer through the links to the right. Every town has such a person.
Local officials and residents should pay attention to any flood warnings. These provide at least some time to make preparations.
- Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service for VT
- Automated River Flow Gauge – Ayers Brook (Randolph)
- Automated River Flow Gauge – Connecticut River (Hartford)
- Automated River Flow Gauge – Ottauquechee River (West Bridgewater)
- Automated River Flow Gauge – Waits River (East Orange)
- Automated River Flow Gauge – Wells River (Wells River)
- Automated River Flow Gauge – White River (West Hartford)
- National Weather Service (BTV)
- StreamStats VT 3
- USGS Current Water Data for Vermont
- Regional Certified Flood Managers