On August 29, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene slammed into New England. The storm brought massive flooding, cutting off dozens of Vermont towns from the outside world. Supplies were air-lifted in before roads and bridges could be restored.
A surging Otter Creek jumped its banks and flooded downtown Rutland, causing millions of dollars in damage. Amazingly, downstream in Middlebury, there was no major damage.
Wetlands and floodplain forests between the two towns are what made the difference. When Irene hit, they soaked up and stored floodwaters and released them slowly, preventing a huge surge of water that could have caused an estimated $2.3 million in damage downstream according to economists at the University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.
Healthy forests, floodplains and wetlands are among our best defenses against climate change. ANR is working to make the most of nature-based solutions. You can too, as a landowner, a voter, a gardener, a community resident or a farmer. Learn how.