COVINGTON, Ky. - After years of watching flood waters rise and ruin homes, some residents of Kenton County who live near Banklick Creek may soon receive rescue.
In early March, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded Kenton County a $1.6 million grant to buy 24 parcels of land that sit near near Old KY 17 across from Pioneer Park.
The estimated total cost to buy the targeted properties is $2.2 million. The remaining $600,000 to complete the buy outs will come from state and county sources, according to a FEMA news release.
"After the properties are acquired, they will be demolished and the land will be returned to a natural state to function as a floodplain for Banklick Creek," according to the same FEMA release.
Kenton County Judge-Executive Steve Arlinghaus said the process of acquiring FEMA funding for the program to buy property in the flood plain began in late 2009 or early 2010.
"As a matter of fact it goes years back before that," Arlinghaus said of failed attempts to assist residents whose homes are under constant threat of flooding.
For years, residents such as Bonnie Davis held their breath, waiting to see how high the creek would rise.
"It kept coming and we saw it come over the creek and we thought we might have to sit on the roof," Davis said in a 2011 interview after watching the flood waters encroach on her back porch.
Arlinghaus said county officials have spoken with the group of residents whose property is targeted for buy outs, and he hopes to hold public hearings detailing how the program proceeds sometime within the next month.
"We're finalizing a lot of the paperwork on the feds with this," Arlinghaus said.
After hearing about the federal and local funds approved to buy properties in his neighborhood, resident Dave Doherty expressed concern.
Particularly, Doherty worried that he would not receive what he considers fair market value of his $140,000 home.
"This is completely a voluntary program," Arlinghaus said.
Anyone who feels the offer they receive for their property isn't enough and wishes to not participate will be skipped over, he added.
Carolyn Cain, 80, who has owned her home for 60 years said she has no concerns about the buy-out program.
"I think it's great," Cain said. "It gives you an opportunity to get out of the water."
The buy out program along the flood plain will continue as long as federal and local funds are approved and available.
"We're very happy to help out and make this thing happen as soon as possible," Arlinghaus said. "We are sympathetic."
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