Homeowners with a constantly flooded neighborhood getting a buyout option

NOW: Homeowners with a constantly flooded neighborhood getting a buyout option

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- More than a dozen homeowners in the Jewel Woods Neighborhood of South Bend have been offered a buyout option for their properties in a grant from FEMA due to constant, extreme flooding that invades the area.

The neighborhood has seen severe flooding in 2016 and 2018 that have left yards, roads and basements submerged with high levels of water.

St. Joseph County applied for a FEMA grant to buy homes in the neighborhood at market value for property owners that are interested in moving out of the area.

“FEMA considers these types of programs the most effective way to relocate residents from disaster prone areas. The basics of the program are to acquire homes at a fair market value, to demolish the home and permanently return the property to open greenspace, forever,” said Christian Brown, Project Manager of the FEMA Buyout Program.

12 of the 15 homes eligible for the grant have accepted the buyout option, but others are not quite ready to make the move.

“Lot of people are taking the buyout. The final offer I do believe it was probably March, April, something like that. In the spring time. We looked at the numbers, and we thought we could do better. I don’t think, even if the numbers were right for us, I don’t think we would’ve taken it. We just put so much money in this house, I don’t know, might as well just stick with it,” one neighbor said.

The buyout is only a voluntary option for the homeowners.

Homes that have been acquired by the county will serve as training locations for the southwest central fire territories before being torn down and converted into a greenspace forever.

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