Thanks to federal money heading to Middletown, the Woolsey Road area could see some changes to help reduce flooding after heavy rains. #JackReed #MiddletownRI
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 842-6543 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FLOOD RELIEF ON THE WAY FOR SOME HOMEOWNERS
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (JULY 19, 2022) – When it rains heavily in Middletown, there are certain areas where flooding is known to occur.
Berkeley Avenue, Colony Drive, Forest Avenue, Sachuest Point Road and Woolsey Road are some of the most common spots.
Recently, the Town of Middletown learned it was in line to receive $1.2 million in federal funding to address one of the worst locations — Woolsey Road by Bailey Brook behind the Dunkin’ Donuts and Johnny’s Getty Service Station.
Part of a $12.2 million initiative backed by U.S. Senator Jack Reed and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the goal is to help alleviate the worst flooding in some parts of Rhode Island.
Through the effort, impacted homeowners can voluntarily sell their homes for fair market value. Then, all buildings and structures are removed from the property and it’s returned to its natural state.
“This voluntary buyout program is an opportunity for repetitive flood loss victims to get fair market value so they can relocate while simultaneously improving flood mitigation and developing smarter long-term flood management solutions,” Reed said in a recent news release.
“I appreciate NRCS staff for their diligent, expeditious efforts to help people and we want this process to move forward before another high water event occurs. We can’t undo the damage floods have done or replace treasured family photos and heirlooms that were destroyed, but hopefully we can help people out of difficult circumstances so they can get a fair deal and move forward with their lives away from flood-prone areas. And we’re also improving the environmental integrity of the floodplain.”
Importantly, no one is compelled to participate in the program or sell their home if they don’t wish to participate. The town also doesn’t need to provide any local match to receive the $1.2 million.
Middletown Fire Chief James Peplau was instrumental in securing the funding, working with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration to determine losses from Tropical Storm Ida, which swamped properties across town in September 2021.
Peplau said the Woolsey Road area was especially hard hit during Ida, particularly the four homes closest to Bailey Brook, one of the main waterways in town that provides drinking water.
Should any of the local homeowners sell, those properties cannot be developed in the future, but must be retained as permanent wetland watershed areas. The hope is those sites help provide an additional natural buffer for the remaining houses in the Woolsey Road area while soaking up stormwater and creating a new natural habitat.
“These properties were among the most impacted by Tropical Storm Ida and have a history of being flooded by Bailey Brook,” Peplau said.
Peplau said NRCS was seeking money to study other areas along Bailey Brook to see if further flood mitigation options were available.
The town is also working on a study on the Maidford River along Berkeley Avenue, work i0ntended to reduce flooding and improve water quality. Local leaders have met with homeowners in other impacted areas — particularly Colony Drive — to see if workable solutions were available.
“No one wants to see their home or business flooded,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said. “We are very aware of that and thankful for the federal funding and work of Sen. Reed to help make it happen. This is one of those top of the priority list items we’re working on to get right to make improvements for our residents and all of Middletown.”
Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/5308/NYCU-Flood-Money