Iowa cities and counties damaged by flooding are requesting more than 250-million dollars worth of buyouts from the state. Thirty-five cities and counties have submitted lists of properties they believe are eligible for buyout.
Cedar Rapids submitted the most properties, followed by Iowa City, then Mason City. Bret Voorhees, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says there are a few businesses on the list but most of the ,2700 are homes.
Voorhees says, "We will now go through the process of prioritizing the properties and the projects that were submitted to us and then we do have to wait in terms of knowing what total dollars are going to be available for the program, because of the nature of the dollars we receive from FEMA."
Voorhees says the state expects to receive about 200-million FEMA dollars for flood mitigation buyouts but won’t know a solid figure for a few months. Voorhees says not every property will be approved.
"Most of these properties are individual homes," he says. "There would be a few businesses, but this program is aimed primarily for property owners as a way to purchase this property and turn it into green space, typically a park, so next time it floods we wouldn’t have any damages to pay off and, of course, that would reduce the number of lives that would be in danger as well."
If every request is approved, he says more than 2,700 homes statewide would be turned into public land. Voorhees says, "Under our program, the space is turned into green space, typically a park forever, so it changes the very look of a city and it changes the potential revenue of a city and a county."
Voorhees the state should have a clearer picture of FEMA funding by December. He says by then, emergency management officials will have likely whittled down the list of eligible properties.