Flood Protection Information

Flood damage from Tropical Storm Irene (2011) in Waitsfield.

Floodplains serve important ecological functions but these areas, prone to inundation and erosion from flash flooding, can also be hazardous to human life and property. Arising from a variety of causes, including heavy rain, melting snow, ice jams, poor drainage, and dam breaks, flooding is the most frequent, damaging, and costly type of natural disaster experienced in the State and Central Vermont Region.

In the last 50 years alone, flood recovery costs have averaged $14 million per year statewide. The following resources focus on education, preparation, and prevention in order for communities, residents and businesses to be more resilient to flood disasters in the future.


State and Regional Resources

This new online tool can help communities prepare for disasters, identify flood hazards, take action to minimize future damage, find funding to reduce risk to existing buildings, update municipal plans, and find out what other towns are doing to get Flood Ready.

Want to view the number of public buildings in the Special Flood Hazard Area, or other floodplain management information about your community? View your Community Report here. View the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission Community Report here, which summarizes flood hazard mitigation actions for all municipalities in the region.

Click on map points to view gauge summaries and hydrographs for rivers in your area.

The following towns have created Hazard Mitigation Plans to assist in recognizing hazards and identifying prevention, preparation, and risk reduction strategies to increase community resilience.

What is a floodplain?

A floodplain is the comparatively low-lying land adjacent to a waterway, and is generally defined according to its frequency of flooding. For more information on Floodplain basics, visit Flood Ready Vermont’s Floodplain webpage. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is based on the “base flood”, or the event that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year. Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) show the extent of the base flood, also called the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).


What other types of flood hazards put Central Vermont at risk?

There are two major types of flood hazards in Vermont: Inundation flooding and fluvial erosion .

Inundation flooding is the rise or river or lake water levels. The land where inundation flooding occurs is the floodplain, as defined above. During high water events, water flows out of the river bank and spreads out across its floodplain. NFIP FIRM maps show this floodplain (Special Flood Hazard Area-SFHA).

Fluvial Erosion Hazards (FEH) is streambed or streambank erosion associated with physical adjustments of stream channel dimensions (width and depth) and location that can occur during flooding. Fluvial erosion becomes a hazard when the stream channel that is undergoing adjustment due to its instability threatens public infrastructure, houses, businesses, and other private investments. It is important to note that most flood-related damage is due to fluvial erosion, not inundation. The land area that a river accesses to meander and overtop its banks to release flood energy without excessive erosion is known as the River Corridor. It’s important to protect the functions of both of these areas- the River Corridor and SFHA.

Ice Jams

Long cold spells can cause the surface of rivers to freeze, leading to ice jams. When a rise in the water level or a thaw breaks the ice into large chunks, these chunks can become jammed at man-made and natural obstructions, resulting in severe flooding.


Snow Melt and Spring Thaw

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Is my home or property in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SHFA) or in the River Corridor?

CVRPC Flood Hazard Map

Click the map above or this link for the CVRPC Flood Hazard Dashboard to view the flooding and erosion hazards for your town/property.

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FEMA Map Service Center – Map Search Tool >>


How can I be prepared for a flood?

Flood Specific Web Resources

Get flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)!

Standard homeowner’s insurance does NOT cover damage from flooding. Do not wait until you are experiencing a flood or extreme weather event, as there is typically a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before the policy goes into effect. To learn more, continue to the next section of our webpage or click here to visit Floodsmart: Why Buy Flood Insurance.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

What is the NFIP?

The NFIP is a Federal program created by Congress to mitigate future flood losses nationwide through sound, community-enforced building and zoning ordinances and to provide access to affordable, federally backed flood insurance protection for property owners. The NFIP is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. Participation in the NFIP is based on an agreement between local communities and the Federal Government that states that if a community will adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance to reduce future flood risks to new construction in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), the Federal Government will make flood insurance available within the community as a financial protection against flood losses.

Additional Resources:

What are the benefits to having flood insurance?

Through the NFIP, property owners in participating communities are able to insure against flood losses. By employing wise floodplain management, a participating community can reduce risk and protect its citizens and the community against much of the devastating financial losses resulting from flood disasters. Careful local management of development in the floodplains results in construction practices that can reduce flood losses and the high costs associated with flood disasters to all levels of government.

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What is the Community Rating System (CRS)?