Bellefontaine Neighbors residents affected by flooding could be
eligible for a buyout if an application by the board of aldermen is
accepted by federal officials.
The board heard from flood-affected residents during a special
meeting last week. Most residents said they feared future flooding
and wanted to be bought out.
Although the buyout application is due Dec. 1, residents were
told a buyout decision might not be made for at least four months.
Residents also learned that, even if a buyout is approved for the
21 homes affected by the flooding, it could be several years before
"Buyouts are completely voluntary decisions for the residents,"
said Mayor Marty Rudloff. "However, there are no guarantees. We
don't even know if the funds are available."
Rudloff said it is the community's responsibility to have a
flood management program in place and that the board of aldermen
and city officials are developing a solution that they hope will
help residents, but not jeopardize their flood insurance.
During the meeting, residents learned of two possible buyout
Residents covered under the National Flood Insurance Program
may be bought out if their home has been damaged by three floods in
five years, or by one flood which caused damage equal to half or
more of the property's value.
Under the program, title to the damaged property is transferred
to the municipality and the land is converted to green space.
The second buyout option would occur under a Hazard Mitigation
grant program. This money generally is used by uninsured homeowners
or those having less than 50 percent damage to their home. This
grant provides half of the property value, with the remainder being
matched by other sources, such as city funds or in-kind services.
This program also helps remove damaged structures from
flood-risk areas. As in the first option, the property is cleared
and converted to recreation use or green space.
Cheryl Adelstein, of the East-West Gateway Coordinating
Council, explained things this way: "The bottom line is residents
will not receive any windfall from a buyout. It's not a fast
process. Some of the 1990 flood victims who are part of a buyout
process are only beginning to receive their money now."
"The government will let us know within six months if the
application is approved," said Adelstein. "After that, there is no
guarantee as far as how fast the process will go."
Resident Pat Kennedy said she was angry with the Federal
Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, for allowing the buyout
process to take so long. "If they want to remove us from a
hazardous situation, it should be full speed ahead," Kennedy said. …