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NRCS, Whitestown continue collaboration on flood impacts

Posted 9/13/22

The Natural Resources Conservation Service and the town of Whitestown continue to work together to address impacts from the 2019 Halloween storm.

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NRCS, Whitestown continue collaboration on flood impacts


WHITESTOWN — The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the town of Whitestown continue to work together to address impacts from the 2019 Halloween storm, which resulted in widespread flooding within parts of Herkimer and Oneida counties.

A residential area within the village of Whitesboro, near the Sauquoit Creek, suffered extensive flooding as a result of the storm. NRCS and the town entered into a cooperative agreement in July 2021 to offer relief to Whitesboro landowners impacted by the storm through NRCS’ Floodplain Easement Program, a component of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP-FPE).

NRCS and the town are working with more than 130 residential property owners to complete the multiple steps of the program. To date, appraisals for all participating parcels, ordered by the town, have been completed. NRCS has reviewed the appraisals and notified landowners of the compensation they will receive through this program based on the appraised value. The town has also ordered preliminary title commitments for each parcel and NRCS is currently reviewing them. NRCS has completed environmental inspections of all properties and is compiling additional documentation required for an internal review.

Upon completion of the internal review, NRCS will extend a formal offer to purchase a floodplain easement, or the rights to the property or house. The town will, at the same time, extend a formal offer to purchase the fee title, or remaining value of property, to each participating landowner. Once the offers have been formally accepted, signed and returned by all participants, NRCS will develop a timeline for completion of the remaining steps, leading to the closing for each property. Each closing will be a simultaneous transaction; NRCS will pay the landowner for the placement of a floodplain easement on their parcel, followed by the town paying the landowner the remaining value of their property. As a result, the town will become the owner of the property and the landowner will be fully compensated, based on the appraised value of their property, upon completion of the transaction.

“We are committed to helping the town of Whitestown and its citizens,” said Blake Glover, NRCS state conservationist. “Together, we will work to restore the floodplain to address future flooding events, enhance fish and wildlife habitat and improve water quality.”

The final phase of the project will be the demolition of all structures and the restoration of the properties into a functioning floodplain. NRCS will provide funding for this phase of work. The town will issue contracts for the demolition and restoration, while coordinating with NRCS. A preliminary restoration plan includes a flow path for directing future flood waters back to the Sauquoit Creek. The preliminary and final design account for all parcels and residences enrolled and not enrolled in the program. A long-term maintenance plan for the area will be developed as the program progresses. NRCS and the town will work with officials from the village of Whitesboro so they can plan accordingly.

“From the very beginning, this program has only been about one thing — helping those who have been through so much,” said Shaun Kaleta, town of Whitestown supervisor. “While a program of this magnitude takes time, significant progress has been made. Most importantly, residents who indicated they want to receive compensation for their homes so they can move elsewhere, are still on track to be bought out. The town of Whitestown remains grateful for its partnership with NRCS, which will provide well over 100 landowners who have suffered devastating loss from repetitive flooding with the financial means to relocate. Both the town and NRCS will continue to work as diligently and expeditiously as possible until this long sought after and long overdue relief is completely delivered.”

This EWPP-FPE project is one piece of a larger mitigation effort — the Sauquoit Creek Channel & Floodplain Restoration Program, which is currently underway within the town of Whitestown to prevent future flooding to the greatest extent possible. NRCS and the town of Whitestown are committed to the success of the EWPP-FPE project. Questions regarding the program may be directed to NRCS or the town of Whitestown.


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