Around 95 people showed up for the meeting at Logan High School yesterday evening.
At the meeting, flood victims learned that anyone who filled out flood mitigation buyout forms in the past have to fill out new paperwork.
They also learned more about the buyout process and heard from a Federal Emergency Management Agency official about what they can expect if they choose to be bought out.
√ Recipients of relief from the June flooding will have the amount of the flood relief deducted from the purchase price of their homes if pre-flooding appraisals are used to determine value.
√ The victim has to be the owner of the property and have no claims or liens on their deed, which must be unencumbered.
√ Applicants who are approved were told it could be several years before they receive payment if they are approved in the flood mitigation buyout program that is a joint effort between the county, state and federal government.
Several local and county officials were present, including Willie Akers of the Logan County Commission, Emergency Services Director Roger Bryant and City of Logan Building Inspector Ray Perry.
Akers has been involved in flood mitigation projects for the county for many years, while Bryant was in charge of first response efforts and Perry was present to gather information dealing with the flood plain planning.
Flood mitigation project manager Tim Keaton and Project Officer Brian Penix went over the buyout process and paperwork with flood victims. They also answered questions from an increasingly upset public.
“We are here to talk about the hazard mitigation program — more specifically the buyout program,” Keaton said, explaining the project was a combined state, federal and local government project.
He said the federal government will provide 75 percent of the funding with the rest provided by the Logan County Commission and the state.
Keaton said the most popular form of flood mitigation project is the buyout program, which is designed to move people out of the flood plain forever to avoid future problems.
“There are several drawbacks to it,” Keaton said, adding that there can be a loss of community.
Keaton said another potential alternative is having a home raised two feet above the flood plain.
Keaton said the value of a home is decided in one of two ways — pre-flood appraisals or fair-market value. However, if pre-flood value is used, any flood relief assistance a home owner has received from FEMA is reduced from the purchase price, Keaton said, explaining that if you got $10,0000 in flood relief for your $50,000 home your payment would be $40,000. This is to avoid duplication of benefits, Keaton said.
“You don’t need to worry about appraisals,” Keaton said. “We will hire an appraiser. We will hire a surveyor.”
Keaton said after the applications are submitted the process is very lengthy. It’s a year before the application is submitted and surveyed and a final decision can be 15 months or longer after that.
“Go about your life normally as if you are not in the program,” Keaton said, explaining that if approved the government would contact the homeowner. When the public asked about future floods in that time frame Keaton recommended making sure they had flood insurance and were prepared for possible future flooding. “If you get flooded, contact FEMA again,” he said.
Keaton said some questions the public had should be referred to Mark Sefton at the Logan County Commission.
Keaton said if the flood victims chose todays current fair market value they didn’t have to deal with a deduction for flood assistance. “You get a better appraisal at the pre-flood appraisal, but they take the disaster assistance right off the top.”
Keaton also explained that the buyout would only be offered to those who had flooding inside their homes on the first floor of the home and that basement flooding did not count to the federal government.
One flood victim asked about replacement of other structures on his property, complaining that the tools he lost in his garage would be more to replace than his home.
“They didn’t pay me a dime for that,” the man said.
Keaton said the project was concerned primarily with residential homes and not outbuildings.
The buyout project is 100 percent voluntary and a property owner has the right to opt out at any time before signing over the deed and taking a check, Keaton said. The homeowner is responsible for liens, and mortgages which are deducted from the buy out payment.
Keaton said if a flood victim can prove their federal flood assistance was utilized to repair their home, it might not be deducted from the buyout price. He said the purpose of the program is to move people out of the flood zone forever and to save them money from having to buy flood insurance.
Keaton said the process is very time consuming. Flood victims will have until September 15 to complete their paperwork and submit it, he said. A surveyor will look at the property and if it is determined the last flood caused 50 percent or more of the home to be damaged it may be eligible for buyout. If the home was destroyed it won’t need a benefits cost analysis, Keaton said.
Those who rent are eligible for relocation assistance, he said.
“We don’t want to make homeless people,” Keaton said.
Keaton and Penix went over the application process with attendees in detail and noted that the more information an applicant has on the history of his or her property — including past flood damage — the better.
Flooding to basements does not count, unless the basement has a ground floor door where people can exit the structure without having to climb a single stair.
“It has to have a level walkout,” Keaton said.