Planning and Local Technical Assistance
The Ulster County Department of Environment has been providing technical assistance on environmental issues to local municipalities since its inception in 2009. On the heels of the recent flooding events, such as Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, Hurricane Sandy, and other localized flood events, the Department of Environment has expanded its focus area to include Flood Hazard Mitigation planning and local technical assistance.
The purpose of this work is to help build community resiliency before the next flood disaster hits, as well as providing hands-on support for local communities and County officials to better respond after the next flooding event.
This expanded focus is a result of a partnership between the County Department of Environment and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County. The position fills a need identified by Ulster County and the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program, particularly after the flooding associated with tropical storm Irene. Ulster County is now better equipped to provide coordination back to other County Departments, but also to better direct assistance and resources to some of its most flood-vulnerable townships (primarily Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive, Shandaken and Woodstock).
In the face of a changing climate, perhaps now more than ever, there are opportunities and incentives for both County government and local municipalities to begin to take actions that will reduce flood risk and vulnerability in the future. With additional support from Ulster County, we hope that at-risk communities will be more capable of doing preemptive planning, be able to better access necessary funding, and may be more willing to implement mitigation measures, so as to reduce the devastating effects in future flood events.
The Ulster County Department of Environment is committed to helping our under-staffed and often under-equipped rural towns and villages elevate potential flood mitigation projects and actions to the County, State, and Federal levels. Recently, staff worked hand-in-hand with communities to include flood hazard mitigation projects in the update to the Ulster County Multijurisdictional All-Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Staff worked alongside the communities involved in the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program to identify, propose, and now implement mitigation projects in their communities. Staff have also been trained in and prepared to assist communities interested in applying for FEMA’s suite of Hazard Mitigation Assistance programs. These include not only the post-disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, but the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Assistance, and Flood Mitigation Assistance programs as well. Communities that have now included mitigation projects in the Ulster County Multijurisdictional All-Hazard Mitigation Plan are eligible to receive FEMA funding.
For the townships located in the New York City water supply watershed, additional flood hazard mitigation funding is available. The City of New York has allocated more than $30M for flood hazard mitigation programming, inclusive of both planning (such as conducting Local Flood Analyses in population centers), and implementation, (such as voluntary flood buyout/relocations, elevations, floodplain reclamations, for at-risk critical facilities, businesses, and residences). These are some examples of a growing list of locally-specific funding opportunities for community resiliency projects available through partners such as the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program, the Rondout-Neversink Stream Program, and the Catskill Watershed Corporation.
Department of Environmental staff continue to play a critical role in educating local officials about not only these opportunities, but also in compiling and producing necessary data, providing technical assistance upon request, and being available to assist local municipalities (primarily) in the grant application, planning, and implementation processes.
RELATED DOCUMENTS AND RESOURCES:
FEMA’s Official National Flood Hazard Layer (enter zip code, location, etc to view the digital Flood Insurance Rate Map for that area)
New York State
NYSDEC’s Floodplain Management Office (floodplain construction requirements, flood insurance questions, how to reduce flood damage, etc)
NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program Plans
Town of Olive Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan (forthcoming)