Flood Guide

Building in the Floodplain

All development in the floodplain requires a permit from the Planning and Development Office. New buildings are required to be built to at least the design flood elevation. Any additions or replacement utilities must be elevated to at least the design flood elevation. More information on permitting in the floodplain can be found at the following 2 sites: the Planning and Community Development Office or Zoning and Subdivision Regulations.

City of Montpelier River Hazard Area Regulations

What to Do in the Event of a Flood

  1. Follow the City on Facebook and/or listen to the Radio. If a flood is imminent or a possibility, information will be provided to residents through local radio and TV stations. The City and State have flood monitoring programs in place to anticipate and alleviate flooding.
  2. Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the #1 cause of flood deaths. Currents can be deceptive; 6 inches of water can knock you off your feet.
  3. Do not drive through a flooded area. Don't drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
  4. Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.
  5. Move to the 2nd floor or roof if caught by suddenly rising water.
  6. Have your electricity turned off by the power company.
  7. Look before you step. After a flood, the ground and floors may be covered with debris which conceals dangerous footing.
  8. Be alert for gas leaks.
  9. Boil water until water has been declared safe.
  10. If, and only if, time permits:
    1. Turn off all utilities
    2. Move valuable papers
    3. Fill tubs, sinks, and jugs with clean water
    4. Board up windows
    5. Bring outdoor possessions inside the house or tie them down.

History of Flooding in Montpelier

Montpelier is susceptible to flooding at all times of the year, but particularly in the spring during the spring run-off and ice break-up. Floods have occurred due to intense rain, ice jams, and combinations of both rain and ice jams. There have been 3 significant floods in Montpelier this century.

1927 Flood

This was the most destructive hydrological event in Vermont's history. In the Winooski Valley, 55 deaths and $13.5 million in damage occurred. The flood destroyed many bridges and caused extensive structural damage to buildings.

1936 Flood

Heavy rains and moderate temperatures contributed to a large amount of run-off. Coupled with the breakup of thick ice, flooding occurred in the downtown after an ice-jam formed on the Winooski behind the old Bailey Dam.

1992 Flood

Due to sudden warm temperatures, the ice broke up along the Winooski River and an ice jam occurred just beyond the Bailey Avenue bridge. The water level quickly rose and flooded most of the City's downtown and some residences outside of the downtown. No deaths occurred; however, extensive damage occurred to buildings and through the loss of store inventories and records.

Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP)

The City of Montpelier worked with the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, along with an ad-hoc LHMP, the City's Emergency Management Team, and other City Departments to identify hazards, analyze past and potential future losses due to natural and human-caused disasters, and identify strategies for mitigating future losses. These collected strategies to mitigate loss of life and property is the City's Local Hazard Hazard Mitigation Plan (PDF), which was updated in 2021. 

In general, hazard mitigation is any action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from disasters and their impacts.

 The goals of the LHMP are to:

  • Reduce or eliminate threats to life and property,
  • Ensure that a comprehensive review of all possible activities and mitigation measures is conducted so that the most appropriate solutions will be implemented to address the hazard,
  • Ensure that the recommended activities meet the goals and objectives of the community, are in coordination with land use and comprehensive planning, do not create conflicts with other activities, and are coordinated so that the cost of implementing individual activities are reduced,
  • Solve repetitive problems,
  • Build public and political support for activities and projects that prevent new problems and reduce losses.
  • Build a constituency that sees the plan's recommendations implemented.

Having a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan makes towns eligible for FEMA grants such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Flood Mitigation Assistance, and the Pre Disaster Mitigation Competitive Grant.

What If My Property Is Not The Floodplain?

It is possible that as the shape of land changes over time or new information becomes available, properties once believed to be in the floodplain might, in fact, no longer be. In situations where a property owner thinks their property was inadvertently mapped in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), also known as a flood map, FEMA provides a process for the public to request a change in the flood zone designation for the property.

Below are forms property owners may use to request that the Federal Emergency Management Agency revise and update their maps accordingly or to help determine the rate of risk for flood insurance:

  • Elevation Certificate - Tool to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances, to determine the proper insurance premium rate and to support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment.
  • LOMA - Application / Certification Forms and Instructions for Letters of Map Amendment, Conditional Letters of Map Amendment, Letters of Map Revision (Based on Fill), and Conditional Letters of Map Revision (Based on Fill)

Please contact the Planning Department for questions pertaining to the use of these forms.