More than a dozen homes at risk of flooding in Greenwood could soon be purchased and demolished with funding from a recently approved federal grant.
Greenwood will get $970,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase 13 homes that are at a high risk of being flooded. The city first applied for the grant in 2014 and received confirmation this spring that the full funding request had been approved.
The 13 homes were identified last year after the city sent out letters to homeowners in flood plains along Pleasant Creek and Pleasant Run Creek, Greenwood Stormwater Department Director Chris Jones said.
The city has about 100 homes that are in a flood plain or flood fringe, he said.
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The process for selling homes to the city is voluntary. No one will be forced to sell their house, and if it is purchased it will be at market value, Jones said.
The homes to be purchased are at the south end of Bomar Lane, which is north of Pleasant Run Creek and on Water, Broadway and Main streets near Pleasant Creek. Some suffered water damage during the 2008 flood while others were unmarred, but all of them are at risk for flooding, he said.
For one homeowner on Water Street, whose home is eligible for purchase, the rising cost of flood insurance is a concern.
Jeff Barger has lived on Water Street for more than two decades. With a $125 a month flood insurance payment that is only rising, he wonders if staying in his home makes sense, but he wants to see the city’s offer before he determines whether to sell.
Barger said his property has never filed an insurance claim for flood damage, even during the devastating flood that hit Johnson County in 2008.
His home is valued at $80,000, so purchasing another home in Greenwood, the city where he was born and raised, will be challenging, he said.
The FEMA grant will cover 75 percent of the cost of purchasing the homes. The Greenwood Stormwater Department will cover the remainder of the cost.
Because the properties are either in a flood plain or flood fringe, nothing can be built without permission from FEMA, Jones said.
The process is similar to what Franklin and Johnson County governments went through following the 2008 flood, but on a smaller scale, he said.
Once the homes are purchased, the properties along Bomar Lane will be demolished and may eventually be used for green space and trails, Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department Director Rob Taggart said.
FEMA heavily restricts what can be constructed in flood plains, which would likely limit city work to asphalt trails, he said.
While this this is the first FEMA grant Greenwood has received, it may not be the last. The city is considering applying for another grant, and any homeowner in a flood plain who would like to be included in it is encouraged to contact the city’s stormwater department, Jones said.