Press Release

Welch Discusses Flood Resiliency, Floodplain Restoration in Brattleboro 

Jun 14, 2024

BRATTLEBORO, VT – Today, Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, toured a floodplain restoration project along the Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro, which is funded in-part through the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant program. This project, and a similar project in West Brattleboro, are expected to make the community more resilient to future flooding. In July 2023, a previous floodplain restoration project helped downtown Brattleboro avoid major flooding. 

Senator Welch also serves on the Joint Economic Committee, which released a new report this week that found flooding damage costs an equivalent to 1-2% of U.S. GDP, or $180-$496 billion, each year. The analysis found that the ongoing impacts of climate change were likely to increase costs in the future. Another recent analysis found that every $1 spent on flood resiliency efforts saves up to $318 in flood-related damages.    

“Last summer’s brutal floods underscore the importance of investing in projects that boost flood resiliency in our communities. That includes projects like this – transforming a lumberyard into a space where Vermonters can hike and enjoy nature, all while helping mitigate future flooding in downtown Brattleboro,” said Senator Welch. “Over $80 million in federal funding is coming to Vermont to replicate hazard mitigation projects like this across our state, in order to help communities build back in a more resilient way after last summer’s floods. It’s my hope that every impact community looks to Brattleboro’s success and applies for this funding from FEMA, because these resiliency funds pay dividends.”  

View photos from the event below:

Sen. Welch listens as Erin De Vries from the Vermont River Conservancy shares more about the floodplain restoration project along the Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro
Sen. Welch listens as Erin De Vries from the Vermont River Conservancy shares more about the floodplain restoration project along the Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro

In the Senate, Sen. Welch has championed efforts to address flood recovery, including leading the Vermont and New Hampshire Congressional Delegations in sending a letter to USDA urging the agency address staffing shortages in the Rural Development Office as both states continue their flood recovery efforts.  

Several of Sen. Welch’s legislative priorities to boost flood resiliency were included in the biennial Water Resources Development Act of 2024, which authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform vital projects including flood control, water navigation, and ecosystem restoration. The bill was recently advanced by the Environment and Public Works Committee with bipartisan support. Welch-led legislation to help Vermont farmers and rural communities impacted by flooding and natural disasters was also included in the Senate’s recently unveiled Farm Bill—the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act—including the WEATHER Act, which makes crop insurance more responsive to farmers following natural disasters. 

The Senator also delivered testimony at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing urging Congress to advance an appropriations package that includes Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds, which are critical to helping communities recover from natural disasters.