GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati has been awarded a grant to demolish 35 flood-prone properties near Muddy Creek in Green Township and Cincinnati.
The $4 million grant from FEMA and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency announced Friday, plus $570,000 from MSD in local cost share, will be used to purchase those properties along Muddy Creek Road between Glenway Avenue and Westbourne Drive.
The homes in question have been prone to flooding and sewer backup issues for years, and homeowners have volunteered to sell their properties to MSD, a decision that's come as a relief for some.
"It'll be great...Not be worrying, yeah," said Robert Buckner, a homeowner in Green Township participating in the program.
Every time it rains, Buckner said, his mind flashes back to a day in 2018, when sewage overflowed into his home. It's happened multiple times and could happen again, which is why he said he decided to become one of 35 homeowners who have agreed to sell, if the price is right.
"It all comes down to the offer that they make you," he said.
The sale is an option Buckner said he's been pushing for for years and the grant has now made it possible.
"Fortunately, we got lucky in regards to the state having available funds," said MaryLynn Lodor, deputy director of MSD.
Lodor said the money will be used to buy and demolish up to 35 homes in the area. Once the grant agreement is in place, the homes will be appraised and offers for the homes will be made. From there, the homeowner can agree to sell or not.
MSD said those homes were constructed in the 1950s in the former creek bed, which was enclosed in a sewer.
"It really does help property owners weigh the location they're at right now and what their living situation is right now," she said. "And it does provide them with something that is comparable but in a safer location."
With the grant funding, expected in early spring, MSD will begin working to acquire those properties and relocate residents to "safe and comparable housing."
After the homes are demolished, MSD will work to "restore the area as a natural floodplain or stormwater management area," a process estimated to take about two years.
"I think one day you'll come down through here and there will be a nice park through here for people to walk through and stuff. So hopefully it'll be some good come out of it from that standpoint," said Buckner.
Buckner said moving day can't come soon enough for him and he encouraged others not to be afraid to advocate for themselves to get the help they need.
"You've got to be the one that's constantly on them, emailing them, calling them," he said. "Doing whatever you can until you get some answers. And then when you get the answers, keep on them until you get a resolution. Because other than that, I don't think it would've happened."
MSD is also working on a second grant request for an additional five homes in the area.