Mecklenburg County may buy some flood-damaged homes

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Some of the homes damaged in last Friday's flooding may never flood again -- because they may not be around anymore.

Mecklenburg County is letting homeowners affected by Friday's floods know about the Floodplain Buyout Program, a program in which the county will actually use public money to buy some homes that are prone to flooding.

Anyone who wants the county to buy their property has to apply.  The county warns not all homes will be eligible just because they've flooded.

The buyout program began in 2000.  Mecklenburg County Water and Land Resources director Dave Canaan says since that time, about $60 million has been spent to buy approximately 230 flood prone properties.

Public county money accounted for about $20 million of the $60 million spent, while the rest largely came from federal tax dollars.  Some state tax money was used as well.

While that sounds like a lot of public money, Canaan says he believes the program will save money in the long run.

The first properties the county ever bought under the program were in a neighborhood near the Park Road Shopping Center.  In 1995 and 1997, the Little Sugar Creek flooded, causing major damage to homes on and near Westfield Road.

In the early 2000s the county spent nearly $12 million to buy and demolish 68 properties in that area.

Canaan estimates about $3 million of that amount has been saved back.  That's because federal tax money hasn't been spent on people who would have lived there with federal flood insurance.

The federal government is the only entity that will insure many homes in flood plains at an affordable rate.

Canaan says besides his belief the program will save money in the long run, there are other benefits too:

  • A greenway has been built on along Little Sugar Creek in the Westfield Road area.  Some other areas bought under the program have seen greenways built as well
  • During floods like Friday's, the Charlotte Fire Department and police have fewer areas to worry about having to rescue people from
  • Having natural flood plains helps reduce pollution in the water
  • Having natural flood plains that can't be built on can raise the values of nearby homes

Most if not all of the homes that have been bought and demolished under the buyout program were built before 1985.  That's when new rules began preventing homes from being built in areas where they're likely to flood.

Among the areas that have had homes purchased under the program:

  • The Cavalier and some of the Doral Apartments in East Charlotte
  • Hidden Valley
  • Belmont
  • Shannonhouse
  • Shamrock Park
  • Biddleville
  • Five Points
  • Amay James

For a complete list of homes that have been bought, click here. 

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