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Flooding two years later: Buyout plan in works for SB neighborhood

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- On the two year anniversary of the historic flooding in South Bend, the St. Joseph County Public Works department held a meeting to discuss its application for a buyout program for Jewel Woods neighbors.

August 15, 2018 is a day that Jared Tekler won't soon forget.

“I came home and I saw the water was up to about here filling the main floor alone with about six inches of water and filling up the basement almost completely," said Tekler, who lives on Pearl Street.

The floodwaters destroyed and damaged at least 60 homes in his neighborhood.

“I haven’t been able to go a day of strong rain that I hear on the roof without feeling stressed that the same thing is going to happen again," said Jared.

St. Joseph County Public Works can't guarantee it won't happen again, so that's why they're submitting a grant application for the FEMA Voluntary Floodplain Home Buyout Program.

They'll ask homeowners if they want to sell their houses so they can demolish them and allow mother nature to do as she pleases without further damage.

“It’s where the water basically wants to run. It wants to flood. It’s allowed to flood," said county engineer Jessica Clark.

Since submitting a letter of interest to FEMA in February, the county sent a different one to 10 to 15 homeowners on August 6, which identifies them as eligible for the phase one application.

“My house is going to be one of the first ones to be sold, and we’re just going to take what we can get from that and hope to find somewhere better," said Jared.

Clark says it's a competitive program, so it's not guaranteed funding.

“We try to make it as quality of an application as possible with the homeowners the property owners support, their information, their feedback. It is their opportunity to tell their story, and the better their story is, the higher probability it’ll get funded," she said.

The deadline to submit the application is late September.

Initially, the county identified 60 total houses that could be eligible for the grant in the Jewel Woods neighborhood, so the hope is to continue to submit an application annually.

You can contact Chris Brown at cmbrown@sjcindiana.com with any questions.


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