January 10, 2013

Reed, Whitehouse & Langevin Announce $1.1 Million for Westerly Flood Protection & Wetlands Restoration

WESTERLY, RI – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representative Jim Langevin today announced that the Town of Westerly will receive over $1.1 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant funding to acquire flood-ravaged properties located on Canal Street.  The federal grant will fund the acquisition of 5 residential and 3 non-residential properties that have repeatedly flooded and were badly damaged in the historic 2010 floods.  Once the properties have been acquired and removed, the area will be razed, graded, and reused for wetlands restoration and dedicated to open, green space.
“This is good news for Westerly that should help accelerate progress on Canal Street.  This federal grant is a testament to the hard work and cooperative efforts of Westerly officials, state and local leaders, FEMA, and other federal partners.  This federal investment will help preserve open space while preventing future flood damage,” said Reed, who serves on the Appropriations Committee.  Over the summer, Reed joined Westerly town officials and planners for a tour of projects on Canal Street to get a firsthand look at the town’s progress and needs.
“I am proud to join Westerly town officials and my fellow delegation members to announce this funding for environmental restoration efforts along Westerly’s Canal Street, which remains badly damaged from the 2010 floods,” said Whitehouse.  “This federal grant will allow the city of Westerly to protect and preserve a key segment of Rhode Island’s treasured natural wetlands, and provide relief to homeowners in an area that has been hit hard by coastal storms.”
“Following the many severe storms of the past few years, it is time to revisit what the appropriate uses of certain coastal properties and land along our coast might be,” said Langevin. “Town leaders have done a fantastic job working with state and federal officials to advocate for projects like this one that will best serve the community over the long term.”
Canal Street, in Westerly’s North End, was heavily impacted by the Spring flooding of 2010.  The area includes approximately 33 acres of low lying historic manufacturing complexes established in 1900.  The Town has already used state Department of Environmental Management open space funds to purchase the site of a former gas station and sheet metal shop.  The 4-acre property, which has 1,500 feet of frontage on the Pawcatuck River, will be turned into a waterfront park.
A 2.5-mile stretch of Canal Street linking the North End to White Rock is also currently undergoing a $3.5 million roadway revitalization effort. The project, which includes building new sidewalks and improving drainage, is funded entirely by federal money: $2.5 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) funds, and $1 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
Additionally, all four members of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation continue working for more federal assistance to help communities rebuild from damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.


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