State Flood Buyout Program Altered To Help Counties

By: Jessica Lewis

CHENANGO COUNTY – A flood buyout program offered by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal was altered recently after indications showed that several of the counties involved might not participate.

The state program was intended to help victims of the 2006 flood by providing 11 counties with $15 million for the acquisition of properties damaged by flooding since 2004, that are determined to be at future risk. The money would provide some homeowners stuck with an uninhabitable house with funds to pay off their mortgages. The property would then be transferred to the county under the condition that it be used for open space, recreational purposes, wetlands or flood mitigation.

However, according to Division of Housing and Community Renewal Deputy Commissioner Joe Rabito, several of the counties involved in the program were concerned that demolition and renovation costs for the homes and closing cost fees would have to be shouldered by the county.

At this month’s meeting of the City of Norwich Public Safety / Public Works Committee, Emergency Management Officer A. Wesley Jones told the committee there was a chance the county would reject the offered funds due to the strings attached. However, Wednesday, Rabito confirmed the legislature amended the bill to allow counties to use program funds for demolition and real estate transaction costs.

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