Workshop explores ways Wareham coastline can be more resilient to floods

In 'high-risk' town, residents discuss changes that can be implemented to protect property, lives
By Lydia Goerner | May 17, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner (Left to right) Emily Slotnick, Donald Hall and Kristen Gelino look at an exercise designed to identify flood resilience strategies in Wareham.

Flooding can be a huge concern in Wareham, but there are ways to protect lives and property before and during critical situations, which was discussed at a community meeting on flood resilience for coastal communities Wednesday.

“We’re susceptible to flooding and it’s a high-risk situation,” said Director of Planning & Community Development Ken Buckland, who applied for the workshop to be held in Wareham.

The process was competitive, with workshops being given in only five towns this year through a United States Environmental Protection Agency initiative.

The presentation and workshop were run by Kristen Gelino and Emily Slotnick of Tetra Tech and were tailored to fit Wareham’s needs and goals.

“We are here to help you identify strategies that are going to work for this town,” Gelino said.

She explained the key concerns in Wareham are the high flood risk, particularly around the Buzzards Bay coastline, the gaps in operational and municipal capabilities to deal with flood risk, and outdated regulations.

Gelino defined flood resilience as, "The collective capacity of communities to make land use and other decisions that proactively reduce their flood risk, help the community withstand flooding when it occurs, bounce back more quickly and continually use data and experience to use wiser choices about where and how to build."

Suggestions to become more flood resilient included an update to the master plan, where the town reflects on its vision, goals and policies.

Gelino also recommended finding a way to assess and track risk, promote flood resistant buildings and infrastructure, take tree protection measures and identify areas where town growth can occur safely.

After the presentation, there were several exercises for community members that promoted identifying risks and strengths in Wareham. People were invited to break into groups and place Post-it notes on a map of Wareham identifying flood-prone areas and where flood resilience strategies could be in place.

A second exercise focused on mitigation action and gave a list of statements with solutions for disaster prevention. People could put a red or green sticker on each statement, signifying which actions they would support.

Wareham resident Donald Hall said he has lived through four hurricanes since 1938 and has stayed in the town hall during storms, evacuated his home and watched boats loose and floating around town.

Another workshop attendee, Holli Van Nest, was worried about the workshop and the changes that might be implemented after it.

“This is not a representative group of Wareham, and that’s concerning to me,” Van Nest said.

Slotnick agreed that public understanding and engagement need to be improved overall so decisions can be made that benefit everyone impacted.

As a follow-up to Wednesday night’s presentation, an all-day workshop will be held on Thursday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Town Hall to continue finding Wareham-specific strategies to flood damage.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 18, 2017 08:04

We're good, we have a new fire station in Onset.

Posted by: bob | May 19, 2017 06:59

We"re good to,we have a town hall closed every Friday...

Posted by: cranky pants | May 19, 2017 07:24

We're good over here...

My 100 year flood plan is insured and paid for...

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