Emergency Planning

EMERGENCY PLANNER:  ALYSSA SABETTO

Effective emergency planning involves prevention, preparation, response, recovery and mitigation. The WRC aims to provide useful tools to the towns in the Windham Region to assist them with proactive planning for emergencies. The WRC works together with towns to engage town officials and interested residents in understanding and participating in emergency planning activities. WRC is not a response organization, but is a partner with response organizations in their work with towns. The WRC provides guidance to towns with meeting emergency planning requirements set at the state and federal levels, as well as initiatives that towns voluntarily take to make themselves safer and more resilient to all hazards.

This brochure gives an overview of WRC’s emergency management work. This webpage should be seen as a source for information and helpful documents to guide emergency planning in your town.  Questions related to emergency planning should be directed to Alyssa Sabetto at 257-4547 extension 113 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Go-To Info for Towns

Things your community should do now:

  1. Appoint an Emergency Management Director, Coordinator, or both.
  2. Update the Local Emergency Management Plan (LEMP) every year.
  3. Complete a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan every five years.
  4. Adopt river corridor protection in flood hazard bylaws and in town plans.
  5. Identify a local shelter for your community. Have written agreements in place with shelter partners. Keep supplies on site (bottled water, first aid kit, extra toilet paper, sanitation supplies). Check supplies and agreements annually.
  6. Put an emergency preparedness line item in the town budget (to pay for things like the stash of toilet paper, sandbags, or gas for the generator).
  7. Have mutual aid MOUs in place before they are needed. Review them annually.
  8. Engage residents! Use tools like Front Porch Forum, or a town newsletter to remind neighbors about shelter locations, family preparedness, and to keep them apprised of what your community is doing to be better prepared.

In a disaster

Important contacts to have handy:

  • State Watch Officer 1-800-347-0488 Resources and support beyond what is locally available.
  • ANR (802) 490-6195 Emergency Protective Measures for Instream Work
  • VTrans District 1 (802) 447-2790 // District 2 (802) 254-5011 Bennington, Brattleboro
  • Windham Regional Commission (802) 257-4547 Reporting damage information
  • American Red Cross 1-800-464-6692 Humanitarian support
  • HazMat Hotline 1-800-641-5005 Resources and support beyond what is locally available

Mutual Aid Templates and Resources

Mutual Aid agreements are a best practice that can save time and effort in the stressful times during and after hazard events. We encourage towns to work together with their neighbors and develop agreements that make sense for their situation. Here are a few mutual aid templates or starting points:

Mutual Response and Community Aid Toolkit - This Toolkit is hosted by the Vermont Council and Rural Developent as a best practices guide for establishing local mutual aid networks. It is a living document, developed in partnership with Community Resilience Organizations, Community Workshop, the Northeast Kingdom Collaborative, the Space on Main, and the Vermont Council on Rural Development. The toolkit can be accessed on VCRD's website here.

Mutual Aid Agreement for Sharing Resources - VLCT has developed this sample Mutual Aid Agreement as a tool to assist towns in entering into agreements with neighboring towns to ensure that a variety of essential functions are fulfilled during hard times. Consult with your town’s attorney regarding questions about this legal agreement. You can access the sample agreement on VLCT's website here.

Public Works Mutual Aid Agreement – The Rutland Regional Planning Commission has put together a template agreement specific to public works, along with an Aid Request Form and a Designated Officials Contact Form.

LEMP Templates – There are several templates in the Local Emergency Management Plan appendices. Appendix B4 is a mutual aid list, appendix B5 is a resource list to include those with MOUs or Mutual Aid, appendix D2 is a mutual aid guideline for police departments, and there is also a Vermont MOU template. These are all available in customizable format at https://vem.vermont.gov/plans/local


Continuity of Operations Plans

There are times during and after disasters when the normal operations of the town are disrupted. This is when having a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) is helpful. Typical COOP elements are: essential functions, essential support activities, lines of succession, delegations of authority, identification of alternate facilities or work locations, communication procedures to stakeholders and staff, essential records and IT networks, and procedures on how the plan is tested and exercised.

We have all learned a lot through experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic, and many towns have realized the need to develop new tools to accommodate alternative and remote work situations. Appendix B8 of the Local Emergency Management Plan is a template that municipalities may use/modify as appropriate and it is applicable for many types of event. If you would like more information about Continuity of Operations Planning specific to a pandemic, please consider reviewing the Federal Emergency Management Agency course Introduction to Continuity of Operations Planning for Pandemic Influenzas. An simple and editable example of Vermont town developed pandemic specific COOP annex is available here.


WRC Model Flood and Fluvial Erosion Hazard Bylaws

There are several options for towns interested in updating their flood hazard bylaws. WRC has developed Model Flood and Fluvial Erosion Hazard Regulations for towns that have other zoning regulations (click here) and a version for towns without other zoning regulations (click here). You’ll see in the WRC model bylaws where optional components and choices between restriction levels are clearly marked. These are some of the choices to be made when customizing the model to meet your town’s needs. As well, Vermont ANR has a customizable model bylaw. Towns can also develop their own bylaw, so long as it meets the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards. Having River Corridor regulations in your bylaw will enable your town to qualify for an increased state Emergency Relief Assistance Fund (ERAF) match of 17.5%, so long as you meet the base 12.5% ERAF criteria beforehand.

Model bylaws are not meant for adoption without customization, review and approval. We recommend that you work with us or the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources on updating your regulations. This is to ensure compliance and understanding of the regulations, as well as a complete understanding of what the optional components are and what they mean on the ground. Please review the options and reach out to Alyssa Sabetto at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions or to start the update process.


The Vermont Municipal Flood Guide

The Windham Regional Commission, in partnership with Deerfield Watershed Creating Resilient Communities and the University of Massachusetts RiverSmart Communities, has put together a resource document entitled Municipal Guidance for Flood Emergencies in Vermont.  This document is meant to assist all types of Vermont town officials, boards, staff, volunteers and others, with considerations and resources related to flooding disasters.  

The Flood Guide shares actions and steps to be taken by each role at each stage: from proactive and smart advance preparations, to advance preparations to do when a major storm is forecast, and on to actions to be taken during the storm, as well as during recovery. This comprehensive guide is meant to be an active tool that is kept both electronically and in hard copy with your Local Emergency Management Plan. Numerous state and federal agencies had input into the creation of the Flood Guide. Our goal is that towns will share this guide both internally and with their neighboring towns, to foster resiliency throughout Vermont.

The Flood Guide is available electronically here, and on WRC's Publications page.  Hard copies are also available at request by contacting Alyssa.


Mitigation Planning

What can we do now to lower our risk before disaster strikes? This is the basis of Hazard Mitigation Planning.

A disaster resilient town is designed to be in harmony with the natural environment as much as possible so that risk to human life, animal life, and the built environment is minimized, thus causing less disruption to social and economic facets of the community when disaster strikes.

A Hazard Mitigation Plan is a tool for organizing ideas and developing strategies for implementing mitigation measures in your town. This results in less post-disaster loss, recovery time and expense for the town and its residents. For more information on Hazard Mitigation Planning can be found in this informational overview.  To learn what your town has done about mitigation planning, please contact Alyssa Sabetto at (802) 257-4547 ext. 113 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


What’s the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF)? 

ERAF provides state funding to match FEMA Public Assistance after federally-declared disasters. Eligible public costs are reimbursed by federal taxpayers at 75%. The state contributes a portion of the required 25% non-federal match for approved projects, based on towns ERAF compliance level. Towns are required to meet four basic measures to get a 12.5% match from the state. Towns that adopt higher standards can achieve a higher percentage of state funding for post-disaster repair projects – from 12.5% to 17.5%. Towns that have not adopted the basic set of measures receive a decreased state match of 7.5%. Thus, the state contribution toward the local match requirement will vary from 7.5% to 17.5% of the total project costs, depending upon the level of adoption of recommended mitigation measures. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for questions and assistance maximizing your ERAF state match.

What is needed for ERAF compliance?

12.5% - eligible communities have adopted four mitigation measures:

  1. Adopt or take steps toward the adoption of a flood hazard bylaw adequate enough to secure participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP);
  2. Adopt the most recent Agency of Transportation Town Road and Bridge Standards, available from VTrans;
  3. Adopt and maintain a Local Emergency Management Plan (adopt annually after town meeting);
  4. Adopt a FEMA approved Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (valid for five years). Or, a draft plan has been submitted to Vermont Emergency Management for review.

17.5% - eligible communities also:

  • Adopt a river corridor protection bylaw that meets or exceeds state model regulations and guidelines (you can use the WRC model or the VT Agency of Natural Resources model to meet this standard); OR
  • Maintain an active rate classification under FEMA’s NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) that includes activities that prohibit new structures in mapped flood hazard areas.

After a declared disaster the damage to public infrastructure including roads and culverts may approach a million dollars. Here is how the cost of damage will be carried by federal, state, and municipal taxpayers:

7.5% ERAF Rate 12.5% ERAF rate 17.5% ERAF Rate
Federal Share $750,000 $750,000 $750,000
State Share $75,000 $125,000 $175,000
Municipal Share $175,000 $125,000 $75,000
100% of $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000

 Not sure what your town’s ERAF rate is or what ERAF criteria have been met? Check on the FloodReady website.


Evacuation Planning for People and Animals

It is vital to consider evacuation planning for both people and animals prior to the need for a large scale evacuation. Town Officials and residents alike should know what steps to take and how to evacuate, so that an evacuation can happen as smoothly as possible. Having an Evacuation Plan in place is one way to accomplish this.

The WRC has developed a town scale Evacuation Plan template that is available here to download (Word document). This template is meant to be an opportunity for towns to create an evacuation plan and evacuation mapping. In doing so, keep in mind that it is pivotal to talk with the larger facilities present in your town, including, resorts, medical facilities/clinics, schools/daycares, developments, and those who may need special assistance during an evacuation. This serves to coordinate evacuation planning and set expectations beforehand so no one is left wondering who will do what when. In creating your plan and mapping, consider creating a front/back handout with information and mapping (See appendix 4 of the template for an example) for residents to have should an evacuation be necessary. The Evacuation Plan template contains general guidance information that would be relevant to all towns in advance of and during an evacuation, as well as space where towns should add specifics for their own purposes. There are eight appendices included that should be specified for your town to be of use.

The WRC has also developed an Animal Resources appendix and guidance document for the Local Emergency Management Plan that addresses planning for and caring for companion and domestic animals during a disaster. This document is meant to encourage consideration and planning for animals in a municipality by determining such things as where they can shelter, who can offer emergency veterinary care, and where there are animals at high risk during disasters. Vermont has the largest per capita rate of pet ownership in the country, with 71% of households claiming to have pets, so it’s likely that pet owners and animal-related business owners will turn to their EMDs and towns for assistance during times of crisis. Having the information on this form pre-determined and available during a disaster will enable town officials to answer questions, give direction and make connections quickly and easily.

Both of these documents are also model appendices (B7 and B9) in Vermont Emergency Management’s Local Emergency Management Plan.

If your town already has an evacuation plan and evacuation mapping developed, please let Alyssa know. Also, make this an opportunity to review and update your current plan. Does your plan contain the elements in the attached template? Have you recently talked with and coordinated evacuation planning expectations with the relevant facilities and parties present in your town? Do you have evacuation mapping developed, and have you shared that with your residents so they are educated about this issue? These are some considerations to make in reviewing your current evacuation planning efforts.

If you have questions, or would like us to review a plan with you, or for assistance in developing an evacuation plan, please contact Alyssa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 802-257-4547 ext. 113.


Emergency Management Director/Fire Chief Roundtables

The WRC holds quarterly Emergency Management Director (EMD) and Fire Chief Roundtables around the region. This began after WRC ceased work with the Local Emergency Planning Commission 6 in Summer 2018. Alyssa felt there was a need to continue to engage EMD’s as a group and the first quarterly roundtable was held in Fall 2018. The idea was to host an event that was casual enough to promote open discussion, while also bringing up topics to keep the conversations productive.

These Roundtables are meant to provide EMD’s and Fire Chiefs an opportunity to skill share with each other, learn from each other, learn about new and emerging emergency management topics, network, and get direct feedback from their counterparts about issues they are facing in their roles or their towns. Please encourage your town’s EMD and Fire Chief(s) to join us, or ask about their experiences if they already have. If you are an interested EMD or Fire Chief, and you’d like to learn more, please contact Alyssa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 802-257-4547 ext. 113. 


Regional Awareness Conference Calls for Towns during Covid-19 Pandemic

Throughout the pandemic we held regularly scheduled conference calls with our regional partners at Vermont Emergency Management, Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Agency of Human Services. Towns participated in these calls to learn about the evolving situation, with a focus on the impacts in the WRC region specifically. Notes from these calls are available here.


 

Last Updated: 14 July 2021
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