18 homeowners sign up for buyout after historic flood

Published 11:58 am Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A total of 18 homeowners in north Vicksburg affected by the spring’s historic flood have signed up to participate in the city’s buyout program, according to city grants administrator Marcia Weaver.

City officials said the voluntary buyout will be conducted in two phases. The first involves homes in the flood plain known as the city’s 1 percent area and were determined by city building inspectors to have substantial damage, which is 50 percent or more of the home’s value. The second phase involves homes in the flood plain that did not qualify for the first phase, either because they were not the property owner’s main residence, or did not have substantial damage. The buyout’s second phase starts Jan. 1. The application deadline for both phases was Friday.

The city is expected to fund 25 percent of the buyout, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency funding 75 percent. Money for the buyout is expected to be available by March 1.

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Settlements will be based on a home’s appraised value before the flood. If homeowners received assistance before the buyout, that money will be deducted from the settlement. Home-owners do not have to accept the city’s offer.

Weaver said six homeowners applied for the buyout’s first phase, and 12 applied for the second phase. All of the homes, city officials said, are primarily in the Ford Subdivision and Kings community areas.

Residents in Ford and Kings fled their homes in early May as the Mississippi River rose to record heights, cresting at 57.1 feet at Vicksburg, or 14.1 feet above flood stage and 0.9 foot above the Great Flood of 1927.

Weaver said the first phase of the buyout is in the pre-application stage. She said the city’s application will be sent to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for review, and the city should be able to make the full application to FEMA by Dec. 1.

“We are beginning to do the full application,” said Victor Gray-Lewis, city building and inspection department director and flood plain administrator. “MEMA will tell us what other documentation and information we’ll need to provide (for the application). FEMA has told us that if we provide a good application, they should have it approved in 60 days.”