Hazard Mitigation

Westerly, Be Prepared: for Flooding and Other Natural Hazards

Stillman Ave Bridge at Canal Street

2023 Hazard Mitigation & Flood Management Plan (HM&FMP)

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 to that end is developing a 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 will update the Town’s 2018 Hazard Mitigation Plan (FEMA requires a 5-year update), and expand the focus on flood management (helping with our CRS score). The Plan is being overseen by an Advisory Committee comprised of Town staff, residents, and other stakeholders. The Advisory Committee meetings are posted below and are open to the public.

 The Plan will assess 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 will establish updated goals and objectives and develop a mitigation strategy and action plan with a list of prioritized projects. It is being 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.

Your Input is Important!

Community involvement is central to the planning process. We hope you will consider engaging in one or more of the following: 

PUBLIC OPINION SURVEY: November 22, 2022 - December 15, 2022

To help ensure the Plan reflects community priorities and concerns, please take this quick online survey. Click here to take the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PDTD5DP 

ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETINGS: November 30, 2022 - January 18, 2023

Development of the Plan is overseen by an Advisory Committee made up of Town staff, residents, and other stakeholders. All meetings are open to the public and will be held in person at the Town Hall (Development Services Conference Room located in the basement near the Building Department). The tentative meeting schedule is posted below, but please refer to the Town’s website calendar (http://westerlyri.gov/calendar.aspx) to ensure that the proposed meeting will occur as tentatively scheduled.

 Meetings are scheduled from 9:00 - 10:30 am on the following dates:

Monday- November 21st

Wednesdays - November 30; December 7, 21; and January 11, 18 

PUBLIC INFORMATIONAL MEETING: December 20, 2022

A public informational meeting, hosted by the Advisory Committee, will be held on December 20, 2022 at 6:00pm in the Westerly Town Council Chambers. There will be a brief project presentation followed by an open discussion on the past occurrence of natural hazards and potential future areas/issues of concern. 

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.

Questions?

Questions regarding the Plan update can be directed to Alyse Oziolor, Principal Planner (401-348-2550; aoziolor@westerlyri.gov