Quincy, MA -- Hazard mitigation is working in Massachusetts.
"Some projects completed since the state's previous flooding disasters clearly demonstrated their effectiveness this year," said Stephen J. McGrail, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
"Hazard mitigation is sustained action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects," said Louis H. Botta, the federal coordinating officer for the 2001 disaster recovery. "These success stories are examples of how communities are taking measures to protect lives and property before flooding occurs."
The Ipswich River rose again in March, but the North Reading Public Safety Building including police and fire vehicles were protected by a new floodwall and stormwater pumping station.
In Lawrence, 22 homeowners and tenants who once lived in the floodplain of the Spicket River moved out of harm's way under an acquisition project that cleared flood-prone properties. The city turned the area into a park.
Quincy, a Project Impact community, gained additional protection against flooding with the Hollis Avenue drainage project. Other programs have helped Quincy homeowners relocate heating systems, electric panels, water heaters and appliances above the base flood elevation.
Flood waters rose in North Andover in March, but the Rae's Pond Pumping Station continued to operate because its structures were raised above base flood elevation. It was a priority project after the 1996 floods.
Nahant's new stormwater pumping station was completed just a year ago, with hazard mitigation funding from the 1998 flooding disaster. The project upgraded the existing headwall, installed a new drain manhole and rehabilitated the surge tank and outlet structure.
"Mitigation is the cornerstone of emergency management," McGrail said. "We want to break the cycle of flood-repair-flood."
Flooding in March 2001 affected the same seven counties that were under a presidential disaster declaration in 1998 - Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester.
Five of those counties - Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk - were also declared a disaster area in October 1996 when streams and tributaries of major rivers overflowed and flooded neighborhoods, businesses and roads. These counties suffered repetitive damage from five major flood events in 1962, 1968, 1979, 1987 and 1993.
Federal funding for the 1996 disaster recovery topped $73 million; for 1998 the figure was nearly $16 million. To date, more than $7 million has been disbursed for emergency housing assistance for the 2001 flooding.
Under FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management (DEM) select projects in accordance with the commonwealth's hazard mitigation plan.
FEMA reviews the state's choices to make sure they comply with federal law and are cost effective. FEMA can fund up to 75 percent of the eligible costs of a project. Hazard-mitigation funding is an additional amount equivalent to 15 percent of the federal money spent on response and recovery operations in a federally declared disaster.
Descriptions of five projects follow.
North Reading Flood Reduction Project FEMA-1142-DR-MA HMGP Project #38
A new floodwall protects the North Reading Public Safety Building from the Ipswich River. Severe storms and flooding in March 2001 tested the project that was completed just months before.
"It worked exactly how we anticipated it would work," said Michael P. Soraghan, town engineer. "We anticipated the worst possible conditions and this storm reflected that. Not only was the river rising above flood stage, but precipitation was stil...