Federal flood grant accepted

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Almost sixteen months after their homes were flooded in early April 2009, 16 Decatur County property owners are one step closer to starting over.

Decatur County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to accept a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for hazard mitigation associated with the flooding. The money is intended for use in acquiring and demolishing 16 homes. The total approved cost is $3,405,621. The federal and state governments picked up 85 percent of the grant, while 15 percent—$510,843—will be picked up by the property owners who choose to receive grant money.

County officials will hold an informational meeting with the 16 property owners eligible for the grant next Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the County Administration Building, located at 203 W. Broughton Street in Bainbridge.

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The 16 eligible families have the option of accepting or denying the grant money, which would be used to help them build a new residence, said Barbara Parsons, an administrative assistant with Decatur County. One of the 16 houses was completely destroyed by the flooding, while the other 15 are still occupied, said Parsons, who has worked on all the steps of applying for the grant. Those who accept the grant money will have to agree to allow their properties to be razed and be declared unsuitable for any future development, Parsons said.

Some 12-14 inches of rain fell locally between March 26-April 2, 2009. The Flint River crested 30.91 feet on April 6. Afterwards, Decatur County was included in a disaster declaration issued by President Barack Obama, and FEMA operated a Disaster Resource Center in Bainbridge for two weeks to help citizens to apply for federal disaster loans. The county government received a public assistance grant to help repair flood-damaged infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

County Public Works Superintendent Dennis Medley announced Tuesday that the portions of Slough Loop Road which were severely damaged by the April 2009 flood have been repaired and re-opened for traffic. The road had buckled under flooding and left residences in Slough Loop virtually stranded and without power and fresh water for up to two weeks, until the flood waters receded. Many in Slough Loop and other low-lying areas around the county were forced to evacuate their homes.