July 17, 2008: Schenectady Daily Gazette, “State to Buy Flood Prone Homes in Catskills”

State to buy flood-prone homes
$1.5M for sites damaged in past 4 years
Thursday, July 17, 2008


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— Selling a home in an area prone to flooding can be a difficult task, especially if the home sustained damage during the last major flooding event.

But a new state program aims to make it easier to do that in Montgomery, Schoharie and nine other counties.

People interested in relocating out of the flood plain are being offered money for their homes through the Greater Catskills Flood Remediation Program.

Montgomery and Schoharie counties each have $750,000 earmarked to purchase homes and demolish them, and officials in Montgomery County are gearing up to find eligible homeowners.

“We have 120 days to put the list together,” Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Gary Nestle said Wednesday.

Nestle said he’s sending notices out to all the county’s villages, the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam to inform officials of the opportunity.

The effort applies only to homes that sustained flood damage since April 1, 2004, according to a news release from the office of Gov. David Paterson.

In order to be eligible, homes have to be the primary residence for the owner and must be appraised for less than $150,000.

Income is also a factor in determining eligibility.

To qualify, homeowners can’t earn more than 150 percent of the “area median income” as defined by the federal government.

For Montgomery County, a single homeowner can earn up to $53,550 and a family of three can earn up to $68,850 and qualify.

To be eligible in Schoharie County, a single homeowner can earn up to $74,130 and a family of three can earn up to $105,900.

Dozens of homes in Montgomery County were inundated with floodwater in late June 2006.

Officials then estimated more than $100 million in damage was inflicted when the Mohawk River, swelled by a week of rain, swamped riverfront communities.

“There was a lot of homes affected,” Nestle said.

Many received assistance to help repair damage and get rid of mold, Nestle said, but “a lot of the houses got mold back in them,” he said.

Numerous structures in the village of Fort Plain in western Montgomery County were affected by the 2006 floods.

“Some are not being lived in at this time,” Mayor Guy Barton said.

“The people cleaned them up and so forth, but there’s a tremendous amount of damage that has to be repaired,” Barton said.

Barton said once he gets information on the program, he intends to start an investigation to “see where we are and which houses have to be razed.”

Schoharie County Senior Planner Shane Nickle said he was reviewing the information with tentative plans to create a list of priority properties that might qualify.

The plan would be presented to the county’s Board of Supervisors, Nickle said. Schoharie County is in the process of purchasing a property through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s hazard mitigation program, Nickle said.

The program being offered by the state is seen as more enticing, Nickle said, because it would pay 100 percent of the property’s appraised value. The FEMA program pays 75 percent, he said.

Nickle said though no decision has been made yet to go forward, homeowners who believe they qualify the program can register for consideration by calling the county planning office at 234-3751.

Similar to buyout programs implemented in the past, the goal on the part of the government is to avoid spending money fixing up properties when it’s clear they face a risk of flooding again.

In this case, properties purchased can not be built on again, according to the governor’s office. The properties can be used as only open space, for wetlands or for flood mitigation programs.

This work, according to the state, will help rebuild wetlands, which ultimately help in flood control.

More information is on the Internet at http://www.dhcr.state.ny.us/general/flood/flood00.htm.

link to complete article is here:

http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2008/jul/17/0717FLOODING/

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