By DENISE A. RAYMO Press-Republican
---- — MALONE — Franklin County’s effort to secure $900,000 to buy out flood-prone homes on Lower Park Street is progressing at the state level.
Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost updated legislators recently on the plan, which would pay property owners 75 percent of their loss through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program of the State Office of Emergency Services for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
So far, seven of the 10 owners in the 300 block of Lower Park Street intend to participate in the buyout.
Provost initially wanted to apply in a three-prong process: the home buyouts, stabilization of the banks of County Route 25 (Duane Street Road) between Hicks and Cox roads and equipment purchases for Chasm Falls and possibly Ballard Mill to monitor the Salmon River water level to better predict potential flooding conditions.
Although he submitted the application for the water-monitoring phase, Provost thinks it was too late to be included for consideration.
The final application asks for $900,000 for the land purchases and $800,000 for the improvements to Duane Street Road.
CAN STILL OPT IN
A presidential disaster declaration in July made Franklin County eligible for federal-disaster relief through FEMA, which offers money to states with flood damage to carry out identified hazard-mitigation projects to protect public safety and public health.
Owners are reimbursed 75 percent of their property loss, and the last 25 percent must come either from the owners, the municipality (through in-kind services) or through donated materials.
Three Lower Park Street owners are not participating as of yet, but since the buyout process takes about two years, they can opt in at any point.
And those intending to participate can opt out within the same two-year time frame.
The town has the option of pursuing code-enforcement violations and condemning homes they deem unsafe or unhealthy for human occupancy, but it has not done so in this case.
This section of Lower Park floods almost every year, causing evacuations and headaches for owners.
In January, a 4,000-foot ice jam plugged the Salmon River, flooding homes and causing water to run freely down the street. A garage was torn off its foundations, and several feet of slush and water washed into cellars and the first floor of several homes.
The buyout would include razing existing buildings on the impacted parcels and raising the roadway to prevent future flooding.
Email Denise A. Raymo:firstname.lastname@example.org