The Role of Buyouts in Flood Resilience

March 21st, 2019

Note: While the webinar itself was 75 minutes long, the presenters graciously stayed on the line for nearly two hours to answer all of the questions that participants had posed during this lively session.  This recording includes the presentation followed by the full Q&A.  If you attended the live session and are interested in just the Q&A, we’ve pulled that out into an audio file linked below.

Presentation slides

Q&A only Audio File


Webinar Description:

Buying and demolishing flood damaged homes is often the best option for the owners, the town, the waterway, and public safety. When FEMA funds can be matched with HUD funds, this can take place with very little cost to towns and get owners 100% of their pre-flood value. However, like any program with two sources of federal funds and some state and local involvement, there can be many obstacles along the way. Come and learn from the duo that made many of the buyouts happen in Vermont post-Tropical Storm Irene.  This presentation will dive from the high-level rationale for such a program to the ground level of actually getting it done 150 times. If your community is next to the ocean or along a river, you should have a handle on how to use funds to buy out properties, thus permanently avoiding future repeated flood damage.

This project was awarded national honors from the National Association of Development Organizations, the American Planning Association, and the Council of State Community Development Agencies.



Kevin Geiger is the Senior Planner at the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission.  He has worked in regional and community planning for over 80 towns in Vermont for over 20 years, and he was also a National Park Service wildlands firefighter.  He specializes in land use planning and regulation, brownfield assessment, water quality, and emergency management, including recovery from Tropical Storm Irene through buyouts of flood damaged homes. He was the lead staff person on creating an award-winning regional sustainability plan.  He works closely with the Vermont Division of Emergency Management on mitigation, response, and recovery. He is a Certified Flood Manager and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and was named the 2014 Vermont Emergency Manager of the Year. He has a M. S. in Resource Management and Administration from Antioch University New England and a B. A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic.

Lauren Oates is the State Hazard Mitigation Officer for Vermont. She has worked on hazard mitigation and resilience initiatives, projects and planning efforts across the State for five years. As program manager, Lauren works across State agencies, with regional and local partners and with Vermont’s many natural resources-focused non-profit organizations to make the State a cleaner, safer and more resilient place to call home. One of the more significant initiatives has been the successful multi-stakeholder approach to buyouts of flood-damaged and flood-prone properties following Tropical Storm Irene, under which nearly 150 properties were acquired and demolished.  In her spare time, Lauren serves on the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club Vermont and enjoys spending ample time in the woods – be it on wheels, skis or running shoes!

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