By Gail Peckler-Dziki

Western Kenosha County residents have endured issues with flooding over the years, with July 2017 arguably the worst.

Yet, according to Andy Buehler, director of Kenosha County planning and development, it could have been worse.

“Since 1995, about 100 homes that used to sit in the floodplain were purchased and the land became vacant, Buehler said. “That gave the water more places to go.”

He pointed out that many folks who used to have their boats ready to get to and from their homes no longer have to do that.

Some of that is because those particular homes are gone. And that has alleviated issues for other nearby homes.

Homes that fall under the Kenosha County planning and development purview for flooding are purchased with a combination of funds. Seventy-five percent comes from federal grants administered by the state. The program requires matching funds of 12.5 percent from Kenosha County for towns, 12.5 per-cent from other municipalities and 12.5 percent from the state.

“Both Kenosha County and Salem Lakes have line items for the buyout program in their 2020 budgets,” Buehler said.

Kenosha County contracts with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPAC) to administer funds for the buyout program.

Chris Parisey is the man on the ground from SEWRPAC. He also helps homeowners who may have experienced some flood dam-age but not enough to make the buyout seem feasible

One aspect of his job is to work with the housing authority to help those whose income is low enough that they qualify for no-interest loans for repairing flood- damaged homes.

If the homeowner doesn’t qualify, Parisey works with that person to find other affordable financial help where available.

However, there are some rules about repairing homes that are flood damaged. When a home is determined to have 50 percent flood damage, that home may no longer be repaired.

“The numbers,” Buehler said, “stick with the home. A home might have 20 percent damage from a flood that can be repaired, but that 20 percent is still there.

“During the next flood,” he continued, “if the home sustains 30 percent damage, then the home is considered to have 50 percent damage. Repairing is then limited to cosmetic only.”

But that homeowner can apply for the buyout. Participation is completely voluntary. In fact, a homeowner can go all the way to the end and then decide not to sell.

One concern is the amount that might be offered. Buehler said that there is an independent appraisal and the condition considered is the day before the flood.

The sale is completely voluntary. A homeowner can go through the entire process, up to the point of sale, and then refuse.

Prior to the law change in 2017 that required local municipalities to match grants, the county used a variety of federal and state grants to acquire 106 homes at a total cost of about $10.2 million. That total is just for the cost of acquiring the properties and does not include demolition or administrative costs.

See the full story in the Dec. 27 edition of the Twin Lakes Report.


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