The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security on a buyout of homes in areas around the state designated by FEMA as lying within the floodplain.
Under the program, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the cost to acquire and demolish the homes, with the IHCDA paying the remaining 25 percent.
Brian Philps, Outreach and Communications Projects Manager for the IHCDA, explained how the program got started.
“Through the Indiana Disaster Recovery Plan, we identified an allocation of funding to support such projects working with FEMA and Homeland Security in order to be able to provide that 25 percent local match,” Philps said.
IHCDA and FEMA have about 30 project sites across Indiana. One of the sites is in the city of Brazil.
Pogues Run, a stream running beneath Brazil, was tunneled and paved more than 100 years ago by the WPA to allow for infrastructure above. The tunnel has broken down over the last several years from wear and tear, causing consistent flooding and significant damage to nearby properties.
Despite recent repairs to the tunnel, FEMA-led inspections identified 11 properties in the most commonly flooding areas for phase one of the program and eight properties for phase two.
Teresa Glenn, Planning and Zoning Administrator for Brazil is enthusiastic about the project.
“I think it’s a great program,” Glenn said. “I’m happy for these people that they’re going to get a fair market price for their homes and getting out of this hazardous way so that they can rebuild their lives maybe and not have to worry about this flooding.”
Two separate appraisals were conducted on each property, then averaged to determine a fair offer. Flood damage to the home and the area’s propensity to flooding were not factored into the appraisals.
The total cost of the project in Brazil is $759,000 and includes all purchase, demolition, and project management fees.
While the buyout isn’t mandatory, all but three accepted the offer. Attorneys are currently scheduling closings for the sale of the properties, after which the city will likely re-purpose the areas for public green space.