Township to Buy Out Hoffman Grove Residents
State, FEMA funds will be used to finance project.
Large puddles of water still cover the roadways. Water is still being pumped out of one residence.
The Hoffman Grove section of town is usually the hardest hit by flooding. Water rises quickly and lingers often after most of the water elsewhere in the township has receded.
The township is in the process of buying out 28 houses in the flood-prone region. It is the third round of buyouts. The first round was done in 2005. If the 28 homeowners move out of the area, only 20 privately-owned houses will remain in the area. The first two rounds of buyouts cost $11 million. Funds from the state's Green Acres program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency financed the project. This third round of buyouts will cost $4 million, $3 million in FEMA contributions, and $1 million from the state.
"Buyout programs solve a lot of the problems faced with a flood event in one project," said Sandy Galacio, director of the Office of Emergency Management. "It takes the people out of harms way, it takes the property and prevents something else from being built on it, which prevents people from being put in harm's way again, and it takes the first responders, who have to help the people trapped there, out of harm's way."
If someone requests a buyout, a certified independent appraiser is hired and places an appraised value on the property. Residents can appeal the appraiser's ruling and can back out of the arrangement any time. Fair market value must be given for all property and structures.
The township conducts an environmental study once the property has been vacated. If needed, the property is remediated and structures are demolished. Foreign materials are removed and the land is filled in and leveled as needed. Seed is then planted and nature takes over from there.
Township officials had to create an All Hazards Plan, which outlines how the township will respond to certain emergencies given Wayne's specific geographic area. It is separate from the town's overall emergency operating plan.
"Money available for flood mitigation in general seems to be becoming more free," Galacio said. "I think one of the things that helped focus this was Katrina. There has been an increase in the frequency and severity [of flood events] in our area."