Summary: A new $38 million program will offer a proactive means to help reduce flooding through the removal of storm debris in rivers and streams. The Streamflow Rehabilitation Assistance Program is being managed through our Division of Soil and Water Conservation.
- In recent years, we have seen some pretty severe flooding in our state following major hurricanes and tropical storms that produced a lot of rain.
- If you recall back to 2018 following Hurricane Florence, we saw flooding in areas of the state we had never seen before. I can recall flying around Eastern North Carolina surveying agricultural damage and seeing portions of Interstate 40 and Interstate 95 completely underwater. It was a surreal and unforgettable experience.
- In an effort to reduce future flooding, the General Assembly approved $38 million for the Streamflow Rehabilitation Assistance Program. This funding will be used to help communities clear debris from streams and riverways in an effort to improve streamflow.
- I have been working on this issue for a while, raising awareness and talking about the need to help water flow more freely to its final destination.
- Slowing the flow of water, especially where it may create ponding or an accumulation can produce much more devastating outcomes if it reaches a point where the amount of water overwhelms what is holding it in place.
- That type of sudden release of built-up water can quickly create hazardous conditions downstream. We saw examples of that with Tropical Storm Fred in Western North Carolina in 2021.
- We know we likely won’t avoid flooding associated with a storm the size and scope of Hurricane Florence – which some referred to as a 500-year storm – but these efforts would be helpful in plenty of other storm events.
- The Soil and Water Conservation Commission, with the assistance of our Division of Soil and Water Conservation, is working with municipalities, soil and water conservation districts and other organizations to identify areas to target for debris removal and restoration projects.
- Efforts will specifically focus on
- • clearing debris or sediment that has caused blockages
- • stabilizing and restoring streams and streambanks
- • rehabilitating or improving certain small watershed structural projects that were previously constructed.
- Project engineering, permitting and administrative costs are eligible for payment through the program.
- Program funds may also be used to provide nonfederal match for related disaster recovery activities such as projects through the USDA Emergency Watershed Protection Program and USDA Watershed Rehabilitation Program.
- This is a monumental step to help us prevent future flooding. While we have previously secured federal and state money to clear debris from waterways after flooding events such as hurricanes, those efforts were reactive approaches that were part of disaster recovery funds.
- This program now allows us to be proactive in clearing waterways so we can hopefully reduce flooding and protect people’s property before the next big flood event happens.
- We want to get the word out to communities about the funding available so we can put this money to good use.