Westport Connecticut Flooding Mitigation Plan

Located on Long Island Sound, Westport Connecticut has a population of about 27,000. It is the fictional home of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo, (I love Lucy) and Darrin and Samantha Stevens (Bewitched), as well as many real famous people, such as Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Westport’s past is steeped in history, particularly surrounding the Revolutionary War. It also has twelve places on the National Registry for Historical sites. Historic sites include the Westport town hall, the Saugatuck bridge, and Green Farms School.

It is the fifth most affluent city in the U.S.

That affluence however, did not save many of homes from becoming flooded when an intense winter storm struck the city in December of 1992. Gale force winds of up to 55 miles an hour caused severe coastal flooding in several communities in Connecticut. Westport was one of them. The Compo beach and Saugatuck areas were especially hard hit, with almost every building in these two areas suffered some flooding.

Twenty six percent of Westport lives within a hundred year flood plain, making homes and businesses susceptible to flooding during fierce storms. The winter storm of 1992 convinced the city of Westport, that something had to be done to prevent flood damages from other storms.

Using grant money from the state Westport began their flood prevention programing by raising twenty two homes above the flood line. Next, they enacted tough regulations on all homes being constructed or renovated in areas such as Compos Beach and Saugatuck, where flooding was most likely to occur. These new regulations require all homes and businesses whose construction or renovation will exceed 50% of the homes fair market value in a five year period to raise their structures one foot above the flood level. These regulations, literally forced the home and businesses owners to take the high ground, greatly reducing the chances of these buildings flooding.

Westport also considered putting a berm near Compo Beach but found the project to costly, so twice a year Westport’s Parks and Recreation division places sandbags along soundview drive to hold back possible flood waters.

Westport also devised a plan to minimize damages should flooding occur. They purchased and installed 16 combination staff gauges and evacuation signs, and prepared and passed out a disaster preparedness brochure, so that businesses and homeowners would know how to prepare their homes if flooding seems inevitable. These actions made Westport the first community in Connecticut to have a Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The City of Westport is proud of its community, its history, and its citizens and it shows in the effort it has put forth to protect their city from flooding. Such farsightedness, should be applauded and other communities who live in flood prone areas would do well to follow their example.