USDA Continues Commitment to Hurricane Sandy Recovery: $7 Million Earmarked to Protect and Restore Property in Connecticut
Arthur Ramthun, State Conservation Engineer
TOLLAND, CT – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Lisa Coverdale has announced that $7 million in conservation funding has been tentatively put aside to assist Hurricane Sandy victims in Connecticut. The funding will be used to enroll 125 acres of hurricane-damaged property into permanent floodplain easements, while also making affected communities more resilient to future flooding and storm surges. This funding will help coastal communities still recovering from the effects of the storm that hit the northeast coast on October 29, 2012.
“More of the homeowners and communities that are still struggling from Hurricane Sandy will now find relief,” said Coverdale. “Restoring and protecting floodplain areas will also reduce the potential for future flooding impacts and improve wildlife habitat and long-term environmental stability.”
Funding is provided through the NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Floodplain Easement Program (EWP-FPE), which provides long-term protection and restoration of floodplains on privately owned lands damaged by flooding. This is the second round of floodplain easement application selections; a previous sign-up put over 300 acres into potential easements in Connecticut.
When lands are enrolled into the EWP-FPE Program, homes, structures, dikes, or other obstacles are removed. This allows water to move naturally across floodplains when streams and rivers swell beyond their banks. The easements also prohibit any future building in these flood prone areas, thus eliminating the potential for future flood-related structural damage on these lands. Restoration of the normal floodplain functions provides numerous benefits such as increasing floodwater retention, reducing damage from flood events, improving water quality, reducing erosion, and improving fish and wildlife habitat.
These investments are part of a 21st century infrastructure that harnesses the benefits of nature to protect communities from harm. They also support President Obama’s executive direction to rebuild in the aftermath of Sandy in a manner that accounts for current vulnerabilities to extreme weather events and increases community and regional resilience in responding to future impacts.
How Are Easements Helping Connecticut Landowners?
Neighborhoods near Beach Street in West Haven were hit especially hard by the super storm, and homes were irreparably damaged. NRCS will provide funding for the restoration and permanent protection of residential properties and open land properties. These properties cover 71 acres of vulnerable floodplain lands and residential lots. Floodplain restoration and removal of structures will benefit both landowners and the surrounding community.
Since 1997, NRCS has enrolled nearly 1,500 easements nationally, and more than 180,000 acres into the program, including land in 36 states.