City could buy out homes affected by spring flood

VICKSBURG — Five property owners whose homes were inundated by the spring flood of the Mississippi River could have their homes bought out by the city of Vicksburg next year.

The Vicksburg Post reports the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has authorized Mayor Paul Winfield to apply for a $150,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to buy and demolish five homes. FEMA will fund 75 percent of the project, with the city funding 25 percent.

Residents in some Vicksburg neighborhoods fled their homes in early May as the Mississippi River rose to record heights, cresting at 57.1 feet at Vicksburg, or 14.1 feet above flood stage and 0.9 foot above the Great Flood of 1927.

The buyout program, which began in September, is a voluntary program involving homes that were in the flood plain, known as the city’s 1 percent area, and consists of two phases.

A total of 18 homeowners in the flood plain signed up for the buyout. Six people signed up for the first phase, which is expected to be funded in March; 12 signed up for Phase II, which begins in January.

Under the buyout, the city will make an offer to the property owner based on the home’s appraised value before the flood. Any assistance the homeowner received after the flood will be deducted from the settlement.

If the homeowner accepts the city’s offer, the house will be demolished and the land becomes public property, which cannot be used for another home.

If the homeowner declines the settlement and the house has substantial damage, they must agree to repair and raise the home above the base flood elevation and purchase flood insurance.

If they decide not to follow the flood plain regulations, they must sign an agreement that they understand that they will not qualify for federal aid if they are flooded out again.

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