Westerly, Be Prepared: for Flooding and Other Natural Hazards
2023 Hazard Mitigation & Flood Management Plan (HM&FMP)
The Town of Westerly 2023 Hazard Mitigation & Flood Management Plan (HM&FMP) was adopted by Town Council on February 27, 2023 and approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on March 21, 2023. Below are links to the final approved plan and its appendices.
While there are many aspects of coastal life in Westerly to celebrate, it does leave us vulnerable to several natural hazards. Tides are pushing waters onto our streets with more regularity and we are on the frontlines for sea level rise. More frequent and intense rainfall is becoming the norm resulting in increased inland and street flooding. Westerly is home to the mouth of the Pawcatuck river which drains approximately 300 square miles of the Wood-Pawcatuck River Watershed through the heart of the Town’s economic center. The next Flood of 2010 or Superstorm Sandy could be around the corner.
The Town is working hard to be prepared and has developed the 2023 Hazard Mitigation & Flood Management Plan (HM&FMP) to strengthen our resilience to a number of natural hazards, including flooding and hurricanes. The HM&FMP updates the Town’s 2018 Hazard Mitigation Plan (FEMA requires a 5-year update) and expands the focus on flood management (helping with our CRS score). The Plan was overseen by an Advisory Committee comprised of Town staff, residents, business-owners, conservation organizations, and other stakeholders. The Advisory Committee meetings were open to the public.
The Plan assesses the likely impacts of natural hazards that historically have or are reasonably anticipated to impact the people and property of the Town (examples include flooding, ice storms, drought, fire, hurricanes, etc.). The Plan establishes updated goals and objectives and develops a mitigation strategy and action plan with a list of prioritized projects. It was developed in accordance with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requirements, and includes Community Rating System (CRS) Flood Management provisions.
We need to work together to understand local risks, make solid choices, and invest in long-term community well-being.
Thank you for your input!
Community involvement was central to the planning process. We would like to thank those who engaged in one or more of the public outreach activities during the creation of this Plan. Your feedback (including 204 survey responses!) was essential for developing the robust action plan included in the HM&FMP.
What is Hazard Mitigation?
FEMA defines hazard mitigation as, "any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards." Good planning before, during, and after disasters can protect our health, our daily ways of life, and promote equity in our community.
What is Flood Management?
FEMA defines flood (floodplain) management as “a community-based effort to prevent or reduce the risk of flooding, resulting in a more resilient community.” As inland and coastal flooding is a chronic problem in Westerly, it is important to identify measures that will help alleviate the impacts of flooding.
Why is a HM&FMP Important?
As one of Rhode Island’s communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise, the Town of Westerly understands that a well-developed Hazard Mitigation & Flood Management Plan is an important planning tool that can:
- identify goals to prepare and adapt to changing hazards and vulnerabilities
- engage community and regional stakeholders and link local and regional planning efforts
- educate community members to increase personal safety and resiliency
- improve opportunities for mitigation funding
While we can’t prevent natural hazard events, such as hurricanes and nor’easters, pre-disaster planning and investments in preventative measures can reduce the impact of these events and improve post-disaster recovery.
Want to Learn More?
Following are some links that will provide additional information related to the HM&FMP Project.
- 2018 Westerly Hazard Mitigation Plan
- 2020-2040 Westerly Comprehensive Community Plan
- 2019 Westerly Community Resilience Building Workshop Summary of Findings
- 2022 Westerly Route 1 Corridor Report
- Westerly Geographic Information System (GIS)
- RI BeachSAMP and STORMTOOLS
- FEMA - Guide to Expanding Mitigation: Making the Connection with Public Health
- RIDOH - Climate Change and Your Health
Questions regarding the Plan can be directed to Alyse Oziolor, Principal Planner (401-348-2550; firstname.lastname@example.org)