City seeks more federal money for buyout of flooded homes

Published 11:42 am Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vicksburg officials are seeking to extend a federal grant for the city’s 2010 disaster recovery program through June 1 to help with the proposed buyout involving 19 victims from the 2011 spring flood.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday authorized Mayor Paul Winfield to seek an extension of the 2010 Mississippi Development Authority Community Development Block grant funded by federal Emergency Disaster Recovery funds until June 1.

The money was used to buy new homes for four families displaced by the city’s 2008 flood buyout. The city had $509,983 for the project, including $408,083 in grant funds and a $101,900 city match. There is $110,000 remaining in the fund, grants coordinator Marcia Weaver said.

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Weaver said the remaining money would supplement anticipated funds for the 2011 buyout. The type of assistance is undetermined at this time, she said.

“It all depends on how many people decide to take part,” she said. “We may have all 19 people participate, or we may have one or two. The buyout is a voluntary program.”

Some of the 2010 money, she said, could be used to help a property owner move after the buyout.

“Some people who accept the buyout may not have enough money to relocate, and some of this money could supplement their settlement and help them get a new home,” she said.

Residents in Ford Subdivision and Kings community were forced to flee 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.

The board in November applied for $150,000 in FEMA hazard mitigation funds for the Phase I buyout, which involves five homes that had substantial damage, or more than 50 percent of the home’s value, from the flood. The board on Dec. 8 applied for $575,000 in federal funds for Phase II of the buyout, which involves 14 homes.

Phase II involves homes that either had no substantial damage or were not the property owner’s main residence.

Money for Phase I is expected to become available by March, Weaver said. No deadline has been given for Phase II, which will not be reviewed after Jan. 1, she said.

Under the buyout program, city officials will make an offer to the homeowner based on the home’s assessed value before the flood. The homeowner may accept or reject the offer. Any assistance home-

owners received after the flood will be deducted from settlements, unless they can show the money was used to repair the house, Weaver said.