Scroll down to read about the communities launching CROs activities in Vermont, and the unique ways they are tackling resilience and building relationships.
If you ask a Hartford resident where they live, chances are they won't say Hartford. That's because Hartford is made up of five distinct villages with strong identities, including White River Junction. And that can pose a problem for resilience, making it harder to work together as a town if residents don't connect with that larger community.
Hartford's CROs team is helping the town forge a unified identity and cooperative spirit. Five years after Tropical Storm Irene, they're also raising the profile on resilience and making sure people don't forget the impacts of storms or the importance of reducing local hazards. A highly successful Resilience Week in August 2106, involving about 300 people, will be repeated this year, as the team focuses on implementing public awareness and education strategies listed in Hartford's Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Jeffersonville, like Waterbury, blended its CROs team with its existing Floodplain Advisory Group, which was formed after the floods in 2011. Jeffersonville's team was invited to participate in the first Leahy Summit in 2015, to promote the development of local watershed teams. They succeeded in gaining a High Meadows Fund grant to build a partnership with the towns of Wolcott, Johnson and Cambridge to conduct watershed research on the Lamoille River. They also received a grant to rebuild the parking lot at their elementary school (in the floodplain) with permeable paving.
In the past, Londonderry has struggled to understand who might need help in an emergency and connect the dots with the emergency responders, volunteers and service groups that can provide aid. Londonderry's CROs team, Mighty Londonderry, is working hard to make sure that the Town is ready and connected in the future.
Mighty Londonderry started by focusing on an inventory of community needs. That led the group to connect with other local service organizations that work on similar issues, and identify needs like establishing a local emergency shelter. Mighty Londonderry has completed a community survey and has hosted an initial gathering of emergency responders and service organizations as they build a clear chain of command and communication structure.
The White River Valley is one of the regions hit hardest by Irene, and its towns were forced to work together to dig out and build back. That spirit of collaboration has continued, helping these towns to thrive in other ways too. In honor of that spirit, volunteers from Royalton, Bethel and Tunbridge all came together to plan a joint event that celebrated their recovery from Irene and marked the continued need for cooperation and resilience action.
In August, 2016, communities throughout the Lower White River Valley came together for a day of action and celebration to mark the 5th anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene. Volunteers from all three towns worked together to plan and host this dynamic event, which included a 5K road race, cleanup events, a gathering of oral histories, exhibits and celebration on the South Royalton green. Gubernatorial candidates stopped by to lend a hand, and community members came out in force to celebrate the way people - and towns - throughout the watershed have come together to recover and thrive.
Planning for resilience is one of the most important actions a town can take, and yet it's often a disjointed process. Most towns have town plans, hazard mitigation plans, emergency operations plans, and a handful of other documents that all relate to resilience.
Richmond found itself with an interesting opportunity, when the town planning process coincided with an update to its hazard mitigation plan and a major community visioning and engagement effort. Richmond used the town's unique community outreach process to engage community members in a conversation about hazards and resilience. They held an unusual event: a chili & pie cook-off, combined with a resilience fair, role playing game and planning workshop. Safety and resilience emerged as one of Richmond's core community values, and the town is now working to expand volunteerism - one of the key needs identified through CROs.
Hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene, Waterbury has bounced forward and rebuilt stronger than ever. Major rebuilding projects are nearly complete, but Waterbury's village lies mostly within a flood hazard area and more floods will certainly come. Waterbury's team is focused on building public awareness of flooding and implementing programs and policies to protect the town.
Waterbury's CROs team works as part of the Floodplain Management Working Group. The combined group has attained FEMA's Community Rating System starting designation, which lowers floodplain insurance rates. They are working on a pilot project to conserve floodplain land and completing additional river corridor mapping. Waterbury also held an anniversary celebration of Irene Recovery, with special outreach and coverage in the Waterbury Record.