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March 3, 2013

FEMA gives buyout final OK

Will pay for flood-damagedproperties in Essex County

ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County got the final word this week that its requested buyout of flood-damaged homes has been OK’d by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The county was notified in late 2012 that it had received tentative approval for the buyout. Now that officials have confirmation, they will proceed to notify property owners, Essex County Community Development Director Michael Mascarenas said.

“After nearly 19 months, Essex County received approval from FEMA for those properties damaged by (Tropical Storm) Irene,” he said in an email. 

“Twenty-six homes that were deemed substantially damaged by FEMA met final approval.”

SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE

Nineteen of those homes are in the Town of Jay, four are in the Town of Keene, and one each in the towns of Essex, North Hudson and Westport. All are either on the Ausable River, Bouquet River or East Mill Brook.

Mascarenas said 67 homeowners originally filed applications for the buyout.

“Many of them have since decided to opt out or were deemed ineligible by FEMA, due to the percentage of damages to the home or the home not residing in the 100-year flood plain.”

The FEMA definition of “substantially damaged” is properties that are within the 100-year flood plain and received more than 50 percent damage.

The final approved application totals $2.67 million, Mascarenas said. 

That represents 75 percent of the total project cost of $3.57 million. The award requires a 25 percent non-federal share of $892,800, which the state has pledged to cover.

ONLY OPEN SPACE

Mascarenas said FEMA told them a contract is being sent.

“Once that contract is in place, Essex County will then have 120 days from the signed contract to determine pre-disaster fair-market value of the home,” he said.

“Once an offer of purchase is made to the property owners, they have 30 days to inform the county in writing as to whether or not they accept the offer price and wish to proceed.”

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