A Year of Flood Recovery

Volunteers clean mud from under a flooded mobile home

On July 10-11, 2023, Vermont was hit with historic and catastrophic flooding. Over this two-day period some parts of Vermont received over 9 inches of rain, washing out roads and bridges and flooding homes, cities, villages and farms. In Woodstock and the surrounding towns many homes and businesses flooded, including the Riverside Mobile Home Park, whose residents were evacuated as the Ottauquechee River rose.

Within days of the flood Sustainable Woodstock mobilized volunteers to remove damaged skirting and insulation from flooded homes. This began a journey of fundraising and working with park residents to repair their homes before winter. We raised over $75,000 to install insulated mobile home skirting on 12 flooded homes. Many thanks to our flood relief funders: Vermont Community Foundation, The Hub (Woodstock Community Trust) and Upper Valley Strong. Thank you to Dales Mobile Homes for partnering with us to complete this work.

study from UVM predicts what most of us already know: that flooding will become more frequent in the next century, hitting low-income residents– especially mobile home owners– the hardest. Mobile homes are typically located in flood plains, and homeowners often do not have flood insurance or the savings to bounce back from a flood. 

On the anniversary of this catastrophic event, our community is moving forward, planning ways that we can better weather the next storm. In January our Executive Director testified to the Senate Government Operations Committee on the impact of flooding at Riverside, and the various communication and funding issues post-flood. You can view that testimony at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2FZuylmsDw.

We also anticipate being the first Vermont community to receive WISPr funding. The WISPr Program (Water Infrastructure Sponsorship Program) will provide $227,014 in funding to cover the cost of implementing natural resource projects throughout the town and village of Woodstock. We applied for these funds on behalf of the Town and have worked with the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to develop a list of water restoration and protection projects to work on. Our first WISPr project will focus on stabilizing the bank along Barnard Brook near Billings Farm, in partnership with the Woodstock Resort Corporation and Billings Farm.

Lastly, we are excited to partner on the Resilience Initiative for Vermont Empowerment and Recovery (RIVER)– a project dedicated to developing locally supported ideas for reducing flood damage. Spearheaded by Vermont Emergency Management, TRORC (Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission), will be working with engineering firms to develop candidates for hazard mitigation grant applications such as home buyouts, relocations of structures, floodproofing non-residential structures, and floodplain restoration. Sustainable Woodstock will attend a site visit at Riverside with project engineers to determine what opportunities are available to better prepare the park for future storms.

To be alive in this moment is to accept the reality of impending climate disasters on the horizon. The events of July 10-11, 2023, serve as a stark reminder of our vulnerabilities and the urgent need for resilience-building measures. As we continue this journey, Sustainable Woodstock remains dedicated to fostering sustainable practices and advocating for policies that prioritize climate adaptation and equity. Together, we can build a future where all members of our community, especially those most at risk, can weather the storms ahead with greater security and hope.


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