Louisiana program offers to buy out homeowners in floodways
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana program helping people affected by the 2016 floods is offering buyouts to those living in especially hazardous areas, state officials said.
Restore Louisiana officials said Monday that homeowners in floodways can receive up to $200,000 if they are willing to move out, news outlets reported.
State Community Development Office Executive Director Pat Forbes said offering the buyouts both helps relocate people from risky areas and improves water flow during a flood as potential debris is removed. He said that until now, those living in the areas had not been eligible for help from the $1.3 billion Restore Louisiana program because federal money cannot be used to rehabilitate homes in floodways.
Floodways are areas where water would be expected to flow, not just fill, Forbes said. The areas are specially designated on Federal Emergency Management Agency flood insurance rate maps.
The Restore Louisiana program will pay for homes in the floodway that sustained major or severe damage during the March or August 2016 floods and are in any of the 51 disaster-declared parishes.
Officials say that they have identified and are contacting about 450 homeowners who meet the requirements. Only those who have already applied to Restore Louisiana are eligible for the funding. It is unclear how many people will be in the new buyout phase of the program, as Forbes says some will not want to leave their homes. The program is expected to cost $45 million.
Because residences in floodways can have depressed values, the program is also offering extra funds to help homeowners buy in areas with fewer risks, Forbes said. Homes purchased through the program will be torn down and turned into open green space.
According to a recent Restore Louisiana disbursement report, more than $520 million was offered to 15,000 homeowners across the state as of Nov. 23.