Flood prone homes sought

More than 20 properties are being considered for a buyout program aimed at demolishing homes in floo

More than 20 properties are being considered for a buyout program aimed at demolishing homes in flood-prone areas and relocating people to higher ground.

Officials in Schoharie and Montgomery counties have gathered a list of prospective property owners eligible to sell their homes to the government as part of the state’s $15 million Greater Catskills Flood Remediation Program.

Schoharie and Montgomery counties each received $750,000 to spend on the initiative focusing on 11 counties that sustained flood damage since April 1, 2004.

In Montgomery County, Emergency Management Director Gary Nestle said the program could lead to another effort to convince property owners to move out of the flood-prone hamlet of Lost Valley, situated alongside the Schoharie Creek in the town of Florida.

Officials attempted to purchase properties there as part of a similar program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency more than 10 years ago, Nestle said.

That federal program focused on blocks of properties, however, and required all property owners in a target area to take part in order for the program to be implemented, Nestle said.

“With FEMA, everybody in the area has to agree to be bought out. If one person says no, then the project goes down,” Nestle said.

Under the state program, individuals can make decisions based on their own properties, Nestle said.

Nestle said so far there are between 15 and 19 homes eligible for the program.

Schoharie County has identified 13 eligible properties and found six homeowners interested.

To qualify, houses need to have sustained flood damage after April 2004, be at risk of more flood damage and be assessed at less than $150,000.

The program is restricted to property owners who earn up to 150 percent of the federal government’s estimated area median income.

In Montgomery County, that’s a maximum of $53,550 for a single homeowner or $68,850 for a family of three.

The income ranges in Schoharie County are $74,130 for a single homeowner and $105,900 for a three-member family.

Schoharie County Senior Planner Shane Nickle said the county has a running list of “repetitive loss properties” that have submitted multiple insurance claims due to flooding, and said six of those homes along Baker Avenue in Middleburgh are being considered.

“Baker Avenue is identified in our hazard mitigation plan as one where we’d like to buy out as many as possible,” Nickle said.

Aside from averting more spending on properties that are likely to sustain flood damage in the future, Nestle said eliminating homes in these zones will improve the safety of first-responders.

“It will save us a lot of problems in the future, especially in Lost Valley. … Sometimes we can’t get on the island, we have to take the airboat,” Nestle said.

Nickle said the state is expecting requests by a Nov. 13 deadline.

Once properties are appraised and a buyout is agreed on, the homes will be torn down. The property will revert to the respective municipality and can’t be used for housing, officials said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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