Wayland residents had the opportunity this week to learn about a voluntary buyout that is being proposed for those who live in flood-prone areas.
On Tuesday, Oct. 9, the city hosted a public meeting highlighting the proposal and gave about 30 residents who turned out applications that they can fill out if they are interested in the project.
Regina McClure of the Big Sandy Area Development District described the federal Flood Mitigation Assistance program, through which the federal government could buy, elevate or relocate flood-prone properties. She and Wayland Mayor Jerry Fultz described the proposal as voluntary.
“The city is not going to take your property. FEMA’s not going to take your property,” McClure said. “They’re not going to take your property because your neighbor on this side did it, or your neighbor on this side did it, but you didn’t want to do it. They still won’t be taking your property. So, this is completely voluntary and you can back out up until the day we hand you the check.”
She said the process could take up to two years and residents could back out even at that time. She noted, however, that residents who live on properties designated as “severe repetitive loss” properties could be prohibited from buying national flood insurance in the future if they sign up for the voluntary buyout and don’t follow through with it.
She explained how the grant program could offer residents who live in flood-prone areas of the city one of three options.
In the voluntary buyout, FEMA would buy the flood-prone home, demolish it and give the land to Wayland after work is completed. In the future, that property must be maintained only as a green space, McClure said, and nothing else could be built there.
“So, what we can do with the FEMA funds is we can do an acquisition, which is, that would be when FEMA would help the city purchase your property at a pre-event value, which means that if we had a flood last week and you were standing there at your property and we were pulling in to do this, it would be the value of the property prior to the flood,” she said.
McClure said residents who want their homes elevated will not be able to use the lower level of the home for anything other than storage after that project is complete and she said the relocation option has a “lot of moving parts” and could be difficult to qualify for.
She also talked about a “catch” to the buyout, saying participants must have national flood insurance and may be required to pay a match of up to 25 percent of the total cost.
She said a handful of Wayland residents who have “severe repetitive loss” properties won’t be required to pay any matching funds, while the match for those with “repetitive loss” would be 10 percent and all others would be 25 percent.
McClure explained, however, that residents would not pay the match up front. She said it would come out of funds FEMA pays to buy properties, and she also reported that Wayland will seek a grant to pay the match for all residents.
McClure also talked about advantages and disadvantages of participating in the program and highlighted an alternative that could alleviate flooding without the buyout.
McClure said the city’s drain project, which is expected to get underway soon, and a proposed floodwall and pumping system could reduce flooding there.
“That (the floodwall) coupled with your drainage project would be designed to alleviate, or greatly reduce, the risk of flooding in Wayland,” McClure said. “So, when we submit this, we’ll submit it, if we have enough interest to move forward, we will submit it as an acquisition with an alternative project, a phase two, this drainage and floodwall and pump.”
Residents were asked to help Big Sandy ADD staff map their properties on a computer program and fill out the applications.
The deadline to turn in applications is Oct. 17, officials said, the project must be submitted to FEMA by Oct. 26.
Residents asked several questions during the event.
Residents with questions should call Fultz at, (606) 358-9471 or McClure at, (606) 886-2374.