The South Central Regional Council of Governments, SCROG, is working to update a regional hazard mitigation plan, and is looking for public input. The purpose of the plan is “to identify and assess natural hazard risks, such as flooding, winter storms and hurricanes and determine how to best minimize or manage those risks,” said Warren Connors, public works director and Woodbridge liaison on the planning team. “We want to mitigate future risk rather than today’s,” he said.
Natural hazards are events that threaten lives, property and other assets. The mission is to reduce or eliminate the risk to people and property. By adopting a long-term strategy the goal is to reduce disaster losses and break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. Once approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, the plan will be a prerequisite for the municipalities to receive pre-disaster grant funding.
The SCRCOG has formed an advisory committee to help lead the planning, consisting of representatives from all 14 participating municipalities and other stakeholders. Connors serves as the local representative to that committee. He offered a public outreach session in early December, but there was no response from the public.
Fortunately, Woodbridge is located in a rather protected part of the state. It is far enough from the coast and the risk of earthquakes or tsunamis is rather small. Yet Woodbridge is flood prone from waterways such as the West River and the Wepawaug; and from wetlands in general. Damaging storms can cause loss of life and property. Falling trees damage the electric grid and during drought periods the trees could potentially constitute a significant fire hazard. Heavy winds associated with tropical storms or hurricanes have uprooted trees or caused them to crack or split, and in some cases have left a large portion of the state without power. A good number of households now have generators, Connors said.
By removing the Pond Lily Dam at the Woodbridge/Westville town line and by replacing the Merritt Avenue Bridge, the town has already scored a successful hazard removal campaign. The prediction is that the removal of impediments will allow the West River to run free in the confines of the river bed without flooding homes and businesses in that area. However, that has yet to be tested in hazardous weather conditions, Connors said.
Residents are invited to take a survey on the SCROG website either in English or in Spanish. The survey provides an opportunity for everyone in the planning area to share his or her opinions and participate in the mitigation planning process. The information provided will help the Advisory Committee to better understand local concerns and issues as expressed by citizens of the region, and can lead to mitigation activities. Questions range from regulatory approaches to personal hazard preparedness.
The survey can be accessed at http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CTMitigation. Participating municipalities in addition to Woodbridge are Bethany, Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Wallingford and West Haven.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent