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The good news is that FEMA has provided the town of Warren with a grant to buy out a flood-prone residential property on Route 100.
The sad news is that the homeowners are going to lose the home and gardens they (and friends, volunteers and family) have worked hard to rebuild after Tropical Storm Irene ravaged them. It is also sad that they will be leaving their home, period. FEMA compensation surely helps, but it is hard to imagine that it makes people whole again.
But the move makes sense for them and for the town and for the river. Increasingly, we know that rebuilding repeatedly in the floodplain leads only to more rebuilding from flood damage.
We know that rivers need a place to go and creating places where the river can flow during a flood event could lessen damage downstream by giving the river some space.
The two-acre parcel that will be purchased could be turned into a park. It could be a place to provide riparian access. And, hopefully, it will function like the nearby Riverside Park – as a floodplain (and as The Valley's dog-friendliest swimhole!). During our most recent flooding on July 3, Riverside Park was awash in the Mad River and uprooted trees and rocks – as it was supposed to be.
The Warren Select Board and town planning commission are open to ideas about planning and creating the park. Give it some thought.
Although no one wants to see anyone lose their home, it's good news that we'll be giving the river a little more elbow room in a place where it needs it.
There are some places along the Mad River where critical public infrastructure, historic buildings and covered bridges mean that we will almost always rebuild after a flood.
But when there are instances and circumstances where it can be avoided, it is good to do so.