The leaders of Iowa’s flood-ravaged cities and counties may decide down the road whether they want to apply for funding to buy peoples’ damaged homes.
If they apply for a voluntary buyout through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they could buy the homes, demolish them and turn the land into green space, but once that happens, the land can’t be turned back. It’s for that reason Pacific Junction Mayor Andy Young says it’s a huge decision for smaller cities like his.
“I don’t want 30 or 40 parks in my town,” Young says. “I want it so we can rebuild and be able to rebuild in the future. We need it as deed, as property.” Young says his city has not committed yet. They’re waiting to see what will come out of federal disaster aid.
Dennis Harper, with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says these programs are offered to all local governments, but they’re most often tied to disaster recovery, so communities affected by flooding are talking about them.
Harper says, “After those properties have been impacted, these kind of programs are the only way they’re probably going to recapture the pre-flood market value of that home.”
Harper says it could take two years to complete a buyout project. In eastern Iowa, officials in the City of Burlington, which dealt with flooding in May, say they are not looking into residential buyouts. In September, the City of Clive in central Iowa created its own buyout program, using leftover money from the city’s prior budget year to acquire properties affected by June 2018 flooding.
(Thanks to Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio/Photo from Fremont County Emergency Management)