Press-Republican

July 16, 2013

Flood buyout deadline extended

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — The buyout deadline has been extended for Lower Park Street homeowners reluctant to sell their flood-ravaged property.

Seven of the 10 impacted owners along the 300 block have agreed to apply for a federal buyout for their homes, which are situated in a chronic flood zone.

The last three have not.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

The original application deadline was in early July, “but with all the flooding we’ve had around the state, it was extended to Aug. 1,” Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said.

He is applying through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program within the State Office of Emergency Services, which is connected to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

President Barack Obama declared a federal disaster Saturday that named Franklin County eligible for federal-disaster relief.

Now FEMA can offer money to states with flood damage so they can carry out hazard-mitigation projects, like the buyout here, to protect public safety and health.

LOCAL COST SHARE

FEMA would reimburse owners 75 percent of their property loss, and the rest must come from municipal in-kind services, donated materials or the owners themselves.

Provost said his goal is to have the applications in the week of July 22, which means getting the reluctant owners to sign on now.

“This extension gives us an extra couple of weeks to try to convince the last three owners to sign letters of intent (to pursue buyouts),” he said.

CONDEMNATION POSSIBLE

If the owners do not come on board, the county and town can pursue code-enforcement violations and possible condemnation of the homes, deeming them unlivable and not fit for human occupancy.

But none want to play that card unless they have to, including Malone Town Supervisor Howard Maneely.

He has visited the impacted homeowners and explained the benefits and consequences of the buyout.

Maneely hasn’t had any luck, but, he said, “it’s in the county’s hands now. I’ve done what I can to help them file an application. But some just don’t want to sell.”

The supervisor added that the homeowners need only sign up, and at any point during the two-year buyout process, they can opt out.

Maneely still wants to see every one of the impacted homeowners participate.

“I’ve tried to tell them it’s not going to get any better,” he said.

$1 MILLION LOSS

Provost estimates the total buyout loss of the Lower Park Street properties would be about $1 million.

The 300 block of Lower Park has flooded nearly every year for decades when the waters of the Salmon River spill over its banks and flow over backyards and into the middle of the roadway.

This year, a 4,000-foot ice jam plugged the river and causing flooding of the homes, tearing a garage off its foundation and sending several feet of icy slush and water into basements and first-floor living space.

And while Provost is applying for relief for the homeowners, he’s also submitting applications seeking funding for water-monitoring equipment in Chasm Falls and Westville and to stabilize the roadside banks on Duane Street Road between Hicks Road and Cox Road.

Email Denise A. Raymodraymo@pressrepublican.com