Moving a Town:The Story of Gays Mills Roxanne Gray, State Hazard Mitigation Officer Lynsey Kawski, Disaster Response and Recovery Planner
Community Profile Population: 625 (2000) Low income, high unemployment Elderly population “Driftless Area” Kickapoo watershed characterized by high ridges and deep valleys with steep slopes
Past Mitigation Efforts 1935: Congressional assistance sought by residents to alleviate flood damage. 1938: USACE begins preliminary studies of flood reduction measures. 1940: Congress authorizes USACE to conduct surveys to determine flood reduction feasibility. 1962: Congress authorizes Kickapoo River Valley Flood Control Project (i.e., known as the LaFarge Dam.) 1975: Flood control project halted due to environmental issues. 1976: URS Corporation completes USACE funded study entitled “Alternatives for Flood Reduction and Recreation in the Kickapoo River Valley.”
1978 Major flood disaster hits Kickapoo Valley causing $10.5M in damage. Established Flood Avoidance Committee to obtain community views on various projects. Flood Reduction Study prepared by consultant. Alternatives included levee, combination of floodproofing and relocation, partial relocation, total relocation, and do nothing. No actions were implemented. Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin chose to move.
2007 August 2007 received 12” of rain; a record-breaking flood. Village began working with WEM on acquisition and elevation projects. Village created Flood Recovery Committee. Just prior to the flood the Village completed a $1.2 million sewer improvement project.
2008 Record-breaking snow fall in winter 2007-08. Less than 10 months after ’07 flood event. Kickapoo River rose to 20.44 feet above BFE. Both 2007 and 2008 events greater than a 500 year flood.
Past Successes 2003 relocated the Crawford County Highway Shop in downtown Gays Mills. 2007 and 2008 floods showed a return on mitigation investment of 592%. Total Losses Avoided: $3.9M.
1719 (2007) HMGP Initial application Acquisition/demolition of 10 substantially damaged properties (9 residential, 1 commercial.) Elevation of 18 structures (17 substantially damaged) After second flood revised Acquisition/demolition of 20 properties Elevation of 5 structures Historic school eventually withdrawn Total funds $1,429,866
1768 (2008) Pre ESF-14 Mitigation already in process after the ’07 Floods, a Flood Recovery Committee established. Community lacked strong leadership from Village Board. At the JFO, WEM staff discussed involving WAPA/APA to assist the village in flood recovery planning.
1768 (2008) ESF-14 Long Term Community Planning Process Kickoff Meeting (8/20) Design Charrette (9/19) Planning Charrettes Presentation to Board (8/20-21) (10/6) Community Meeting Presentation of Draft (9/18) Plan (10/20)
Alternatives No Action – rejected Levee – not feasible for financial, risk and technical reasons Partial relocation Total relocation Split between partial and total relocation
Projects Economic and Flood Recovery Coordinator Site development Maximize on HMGP funding and match Low-cost improvements to existing downtown Business incubator
1768 (2008) Post ESF-14 Community believed that the ESF-14 concept plan was what they would get—for free. Community didn’t want to invest money into the relocation. WEM coordinated the initial multi-agency response.
1768 (2008) HMGP Acquisition/demolition 12 more substantially damaged structures Elevation of 1 $1,098,006 Includes the EMS building
HMGP Status Elevation of 5 structures completed 33 offers-to-purchase accepted 29 closings to date 23 demolitions completed $2,527,872
Successes Providing direction to a tiny community with no professional local government. Supplemental funds from other agencies. ESF 14 team’s specialties: historic and cultural, environmental, communications, economic development, public facilities, urban planning, landscape architect, and grants. Partnership and collaboration with other agencies developed from the 1993 floods.
Challenges Lack of communication, local leadership, and local capability (small, rural community) Community expectations (not going to change). Not a “Soldiers Grove” Outsiders very vocal against relocation. Afraid of losing “downtown” Community believing in total and complete consensus.
Additional Challenges Local media coverage. Funding for a flood recovery coordinator. The plan itself
Current Situation 2 relocation sites purchased Site A – Chestelson now known as North Mills Site C – Dudgeon Mixed use Multiple agency collaboration and funding streams Economic and Recovery Coordinator (SSBG) Sustainability
North Mills Residential homes and townhouses Mercantile Center owned by the village Community Commerce Center Library Village offices Community Kitchen
Status – North Mills 34 sites available for residential housing 2 - 5 unit townhouses completed; may build 2 more 1 home completed; 3 more by end of 2010 6 more planned for 2011
Site C - Dudgeon Small health clinic Assisted living facility EMS and Fire Department Public Works Additional business development
Funding Estimate $18 million FEMA/WEM (HMGP) Acquisition/demolition of substantially damaged properties Elevations EDA Infrastructure business portion Portion of village owned mercantile center Portion of Community Commerce Center Geothermal and solar systems 3 years salary for central business district manager
Rural Development Grants and loans Portion of infrastructure Portion of funding for Community Commerce Center and proposed public works pending Funding programs for homeowners State DOC – CDBG Planning grant to hire consultant Match to HMGP and home rehab Acquisition costs for relocation sites Portion of infrastructure Portion of Community Commerce Center Funds pending for acquisition of additional floodplain properties and construction of single family housing
Coulee CAP financing and sponsorship of townhouses and other housing DOT highway improvements State Dept. of Health Services – SSBG (expired 9/30/10.) TIF Private investments Land purchased for new marketplace to house grocery store, gas station, bank, and car wash
Lessons Learned ESF-14 activate sooner and stay longer New “normal” Recognizing past efforts of state and locals Communications Supplemental funding (future expectations)
Roxanne Gray State Hazard Mitigation Officer 608-242-3211 Roxanne.email@example.com Lynsey KawskiDisaster Response and Recovery Planner 608-242-3222 Lynsey.firstname.lastname@example.org