By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury’s Assistant Town Manager Kristen Las presented findings from workshops held in May to assess Shrewsbury’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) to the Board at its July 24 meeting.
Governor Charlie Baker signed an Executive Order March 15 to “Promote Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental and Natural Resource Protection and Investment in Recreational Assets and Opportunity.” The law allows for $1.4 billion in state funding for climate change preparedness, environmental protection and community investment.
Funding will allow for cities and town to plan for resiliency and implement key climate change adaptation actions through assessments and action-oriented plans.
Secretary Matthew A. Beaton, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, provided an overview of the commonwealth’s MVP initiative, and State Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) identified the top primary hazards affecting the town. These include intense rain/flooding, wind events, hurricanes or nor’easters, extreme cold and heat waves, fire and drought. Participants of the workshops worked in small groups to identify vulnerabilities and strengths associated with these hazards.
Shrewsbury’s biggest challenges include localized flooding, evacuation/traffic management, emergency preparedness, response and recovery after a storm event and drought conditions.
Las shared photos of specific weather incidents in Shrewsbury with selectmen and climate projections. According to projections, by the mid-2050s Shrewsbury will have a climate similar to Maryland and by the 2090s it will be similar to North Carolina.
Shrewsbury’s current strengths are many and include SELCO, its Code Red communication system, the Shrewsbury Emergency Management Department, and the town’s inland geographic location.
“We are aligning the priorities and the projects that were identified in this project with the Master Plan and if there are other grant opportunities we can proceed with those,” Las said.
Selectman Beth Casavant attended both workshops.
“I love to plan for worse case scenarios,” she said. “So, it was a good thing and a bad thing for me because it put thoughts in my head but it also got me thinking about what we would do if we were faced with a situation where the weather was severe and or we needed more emergency shelter space.”