Friday, March 11, 2016

Time To Permanently Move People From Flood Prone Lyndonville Neighborhood

Damagbing floods at the Northeast Kingdom Mobile
Home Park in Lyndonville on February 26.
Image from WCAX-TV. 
According to a flood warning issued overnight from the National Weather Service office in South Burlington, Vermont, they were evacuating a mobile home park in Lyndonville due to flooding.

As far as I know, this was the only spot in Vermont that had significant flooding from the rains that fell yesterday and last night.

Apparently, some sort of ice jam has created the flooding there.

This is the second time within a month this mobile home park was evacuated due to flooding. The same thing happened on February 25 and 26 during a heavy rain storm then.

The area around Route 5 and Route 114 in Lyndonville in one of the most notorious flood prone spots  in Vermont.

 Like Route 73 near Brandon,  Boston Post Road in Enosburgh  and North Williston Road between Essex and Williston, you can count on that spot in Lyndonville going under water every time we have heavy rain, snow melt or ice jams in the Green Mountain State.

Most of those places, we can deal with it. Motorists take a detour, and in the case of Brandon, Enosburg and Williston, homes tend not to be affected by the high water.

This isnt true in Lyndonville. The Northeast Kingdom Mobile Home Park is right near the intersection of  Routes 5 and 114 in Lyndonville.  Every time I turn around it's being evacuated due to flooding. This has to be incredibly difficult for the people who live there.

Plus, local services like the Red Cross are strained every time they have to open emergency shelters. Firefighters need to be called out every time to help get people out of harm's way. This is a drain on personnel and budgets.

Mobile home parks, by definition low income housing, are often placed in bad places, like flood plains It would make sense to move the mobile home park away from the very frequent floodwaters.

Lower income people are least prepared to recover from flood damaged homes and cars. Even the ones whose homes escape the flooding often have to evacuate, and that might necessitate a sick day from work. In many cases, if you don't work, you don't get paid. (Although Vermont is on the brink of enacting a law that mandates paid sick leave, thank you Leggie and Gov Shumlin!)

I, and a lot of people, would love to see Lyndonville's Northeast Kingdom Mobile Home Park moved, so the residents there won't have to evacuate practically every time it rains

Here's the problem: It makes infinite sense to move the mobile home park, but where? Where is there land to establish a new mobile home park?  I also imagine there's some mobile homes there in Lyndonville that can't be moved anyway. They're so old they're no longer mobile.

It's a safe bet that most of the people in this mobile home park can't just plunk down some cool cash this afternoon and buy a newer, safer mobile home, a house on high ground, or an apartment no where near a flood plain.

I don't have a good policy prescription for the Northeast Kingdom Mobile Home Park. But it's long past the time where smart people need to put their heads together to figure out how to let these residents live affordably in a high, dry spot.

There's an added factor: Rain storms have tended to get heavier and more destructive in Vermont and recent decades. Climatologists say these type of intense, flooding rains will continue to get more frequent as the Earth warms. That means this problem in the Northeast Kingdom isn't going away, and has a good chance of getting even worse

Let's relegate the intersection of Route 5 and 114 in Lyndonville to the status of one of those flood prone spots that doesn't really affect anybody, and doesn't disrupt lives time and time again.

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