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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."

Russell W. Ganz March 19, 2011 at 02:09 AM
why not fix the problem and not have people be forced to leave their homes? fair market value in a flood zone is no where near what a home will cost in another area. can these people afford a much higher mortgage ? FIX THE PROBLEM!!!!!!
Denise Ziegler March 19, 2011 at 04:22 AM
Fixing the problem is a good answer, but it would take years and we don't have that much time until another flood approaches. BUY OUT SHOULD BE FOR ANYONE IN WAYNE, NOT JUST HOFFMAN GROVE.. That is completely unfair!! I have flooded 4 times since 2005 and unlike Hoffman Grove, I do not have a basement or stilts and the water destroys my living quarters and we are misplaced for months!! BUY ME OUT TOO!!!! Why should Hoffman Grove be the only ones?

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