Federal program that provides an escape to flooded property owners

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    HORRY COUNTY (WMBF) – For homeowners’ experiencing repeated flooding after Hurricane Florence, one option may be to allow the local government to take over their property.

    This option is available to eligible properties through grant programs funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

    The agency’s Flooding Mitigation Program awards funds to cities and counties to acquire, demolish, relocate, and elevate businesses and homes.

    FEMA has approved the acquisition and demolition of 289 properties in South Carolina since 2017. The projects were estimated to cost $51.5 million.

    The grants aim to decrease or eliminate risks caused by properties prone to continuous flooding.

    By taking over the property, the agency offers residents a way to reduce financial and emotional burden while decreasing the amount FEMA spends on repairing the property.

    Flooding and hurricanes have cost South Carolina $7 billion in damages in the last 12 years.

    According to FEMA, every dollar spent on grants saves six dollars in future disaster costs.

    How it works

    Properties need to meet a number of requirements including having a National Flooding Insurance Policy.

    Applications begin at the individual level and are sent to local counties or cities before being reviewed by South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources. The state will submit applications along with a flood mitigation plan to FEMA.

    FEMA has final approval on applications. Once approved, property owners have the final decision on whether or not to let the government take their property.

    The program is completely voluntary.

    After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, 56 homes in Conway were considered for the buyout program.

    Conway’s application was approved but as of June, but less than 10 of the 57 property owners had requested an appraisal, according to reporting by MyHorryNews.

    The appraisals are based on the property value before the flooding. Property owners receive 75 percent of the appraised value.

    Once the buyout is approved, the city owns the property and the houses are destroyed. Nothing can be built on the land again and often these sites are turned into green spaces.

    As of July 2018, FEMA awarded more than $63 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds due to Hurricane Matthew.

    FEMA awarded $17 million to North Carolina to fund acquisition and demolition projects in Robeson County, Lumberton, and Smithfield.

    The agency reports $160 million is available for grants in the 2018 fiscal year.

    For more information on eligibility visit: https://www.fema.gov/flood-mitigation-assistance-grant-program

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