Indiana county seeks FEMA aid for flood buyout program

March 1, 2018

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana county is seeking federal aid to buy out about 23 flood-prone properties that were damaged by historic flooding two years ago.

St. Joseph County Commissioners decided Tuesday to request Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for a “voluntary flood plain buyout program.”

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security would run the buyout program, and the county would use the federal grant money to buy and demolish flood-damaged homes.

Commissioners sent a letter to the state’s homeland security department designating 23 properties in a neighborhood south of South Bend as the preliminary “buyout area,” the South Bend Tribune reported . The properties are located in a low-elevated area near a watershed vulnerable to flooding.

Chris Elmerick is among several of the property owners who recently received a letter notifying them that their homes could be bought by the county to be demolished. He said he’d welcome a buyout. His home in the Jewell Woods area was destroyed by the August 2016 flood.

“It’s great to see the county is looking at some type of way to reimburse people who had losses,” Elmerick said.

Eligible property owners won’t be required to sell their homes, but the county would offer to buy them at a fair market value prior to flood damages. Property values would be determined by appraisals.

Once the county buys and demolishes a property, it would then place deed restrictions on it to prevent future construction.

County Engineer Jessica Clark said the goal is to make the watershed area more resilient to withstand future floods.

The county plans to assess property flood damage in the coming months. It will need to file its grant application by August.


Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

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