Residents of Jewel Woods reflect back on flooding

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Some residents of Jewel Woods are no stranger to what heavy rain can bring.

The neighborhood experienced overwhelming flooding back in 2016 and 2018, leaving pockets of open lots on some streets where homes once stood just a little over a year ago.

“We bought 10 properties, demolished those, and based on the requirements of the grant, those properties have to remain open and natural,” says Director of Economic Development for Saint Joe County, Bill Schalliol.

A grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency allowed for buy-outs, with the property owners agreeing to sell, then the county demolished the houses.

“We demolished the homes that had the worst damage, or were adjacent to the ditch,” explains Schalliol.

A nearby drainage ditch is what neighbors tell me was the root of the issue. In video of the floods form 201

“The ditch cannot handle the water, when it’s in significant amounts,” says a neighbor from the original flooding in 2018.

Now, neighbors say they don’t worry as much about the flooding because of the now-empty lots that can absorb the excess water.

“If there is flooding ever again, just that extra green space should be able to help absorb the water in that area,” Schalliol says.

The county says they don’t plan on acquiring any more homes in the Jewel Woods neighborhood and right now they’re tying up loose ends on the buyouts. However, they may seek out additional funding if there are more homes that would qualify for a buy-out.

If you want to seek more information or get in contact with a county official about the buyouts, visit Saint Joe County’s Department of Infrastructure, Planning, and Growth page.

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