Williston, VT -- After severe storms and floods in the mid to late 90s eroded Birdseye road in Castleton, the town decided to get proactive. With money made available through a joint federal and state program, Castleton undertook an aggressive improvement project on Birdseye road. Birdseye road serves local residences and is part of a town school bus route. Recurring damage costs placed an undue burden on the town budget. To reduce this burden, the town worked with the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
The results of Castleton's mitigation efforts have stabilized the road to the extent that routine maintenance satisfies the road's repair needs. According to Clarence Decker, Castleton's Highway Supervisor, innovative techniques were used to divert runoff away from Birdseye road to prevent future erosion. Storms and flooding now cause little or no damage to the road. In one specific incident this past summer, severe storms in the area dropped four to five inches of rain in one hour. With the exception of some ditch repair, the new system prevented damage to the road. Public travel on the road was not affected nor endangered.
James N. Russo, FEMA's Coordinating Officer said that in the past, recovery
programs have sought primarily to restore infrastructure to their pre-disaster
condition. As an essential part of the recovery process, representatives from
federal and local agencies now explore ways to prevent destruction from happening
Russo explained that the expenditure of $75,179 in Federal Mitigation Grants and $39,387 in town funds has prevented recurring damage, avoiding the incurrence of repair costs, and reducing the tax requirements on the local community. "Taxpayers as well as town officials don't want to continually deal with the same problem," said Russo. "This is a terrific example of where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.