NEWINGTON, N.H. -- FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Kenneth Clark recently noted the continuing effectiveness of the 1998 Colby-Sawyer drainage project in New London, NH. According to Clark, “The Colby-Sawyer project is an example of positive action by community officials to protect property from damage caused by flooding or other natural hazards.”
This project was a collaborative financial effort between Colby-Sawyer College and the Town of New London to prevent flooding in the Standard Street area. Total costs were $116,583 of which FEMA provided $87,437. A severe three-day freezing rain and ice storm in January 1998 initiated interest after 3 inches of rain damaged the bookstore, safety office and residence laundry facilities in Colgate and Shepard Halls. Central New Hampshire experienced widespread damage to communications and power systems during that same storm.
After an engineering assessment, the determination was made to upgrade the local storm drainage system and link it to the municipal storm water drainage system. Eight new catch basins were installed. On Standard Street, 24-inch catch basins were installed on either side of the street.
Since the completion of the Colby-Sawyer project, there have been numerous heavy rain events handled by the new system. In the past eight years, no flooding to campus buildings has taken place. This would include two severe flooding incidents that occurred in the fall of 2005 and region-wide rainstorms this past spring.
By addressing the problem, New London and Colby-Sawyer have eliminated a potential cause of mold and related health risks to students, staff and visitors. In addition, serious flooding events at the college could result in extended full or partial shutdown of classes and activities. A loss of the school enrollment for an extended period would have hurt the local economy. Flooding also costs the college man hours in campus clean-up as well as loss of income.
A recent study commissioned by FEMA from the National Institute of Building Sciences determined every dollar spent on mitigation projects avoided four dollars in losses.
More than $1.1 million in FEMA disaster funds are expected to be made available to the state of New Hampshire in the coming months for communities to undertake mitigation projects. In order for New Hampshire cities and towns to receive FEMA mitigation funds, the local government must have a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.