JAY — A $2.7 million buyout of 26 Essex County properties destroyed by last year’s floods has been OK’d by federal authorities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency notified Essex County officials this week.
Most of the homes are in Keene and Jay, with a few in Essex, Elizabethtown and Port Henry. All are either on the Ausable River, Bouquet River or East Mill Brook.
Essex County Director of Community Resources Michael Mascarenas said once a 15-day comment period is up, the Hazard Mitigation Assistance funding will be official.
“We heard from FEMA that 26 substantially damaged properties were tentatively approved. We have to put it out to public notice, a 15-day comment period. We’re going to have some resolution very soon.”
County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) praised Mascarenas and County Manager Daniel Palmer for their work on the buyout application.
“It’s finally something,” Douglas said. “They (homeowners) can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Keene Town Supervisor William Ferebee said most of the people getting the buyout in his town decided to stay in the community after their homes were destroyed.
“It’s been a long road coming. The frustrating part is the lack of FEMA communication to our constituents involved in the buyout. People looked to us for answers and we haven’t been able to give them any. I’m pleased they made the announcement. Now we have to give these folks their money and move on.”
Mascarenas said creating an open space in perpetuity is all they can do with those properties after they have been acquired. The county will own the land once the buildings are demolished and removed.
“This (is for) properties that were determined to be substantially damaged,” he said. “The definition of substantially damaged are those properties that are within the 100-year flood plain and received over 50 percent damage.”