Florida Times-Union: To Answer Flooding Woes, Jacksonville Plans Buy-Out Offer for Southside Neighborhood

November 4, 2017

Jessica Grannis, the Climate Center's adaptation program manager, spoke to the Florida Times-Union regarding potential plans in Jacksonville, Florida, to voluntariy relocate residents from flood-prone areas.

Jacksonville officials want to buy out homeowners in a low-lying South Shores neighborhood that was swamped during Hurricane Irma to end a cycle of flooding that began years ago, the Times-Union reports. The sales - they would be voluntary, not through condemnation - would be a chance for owners of some of 73 city-targeted properties to rebound from flood damage Hurricane Irma delivered in September. City officials are counting on a flood-mitigation grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover about three-quarters of the cost. Using FEMA money bars the city from condemning property, so the project will depend on getting people to choose to work with the city.

Previously in Jacksonville, FEMA has paid to buy out individual homeowners whose homes were flooded so repeatedly they became a drag on the National Flood Insurance Program, but trying to buy out blocks of a neighborhood is unusual for the city, the Times-Union reports.

But it's been done before in places ranging from Tulsa, Okla.,to New Orleans and New York, and there are lessons to draw from those, Grannis said in an interview. For example, Grannis said cities using FEMA money in large efforts sometimes don't realize until midway through their projects how many restrictions they've agreed to follow. Using federal money should be "a thought-through process ... so that you can maximize the benefits," she said.

Read the full story here.