The federal government is beginning the process of buying out properties that get flooded all the time, spending $4 million for almost 50 properties in our area, including Lycoming County, that saw serious damage in the September flood.
The floods last September wrecked several homes along creeks in Lycoming County causing millions of dollars in damage.
Now some of those properties are on their way to a federal and state buyout. The owners are getting paid to move out of the path of future floods.
Homes were left in shambles when the September floods hit parts of Lycoming County last year.
Some places were destroyed. Others were damaged so badly there were questions if the owners would or should ever return.
Nearly eight months later, FEMA has announced millions of dollars to help buy out some properties hit the hardest, six so far in Lycoming County.
"We use is substantially damaged, anything that's damaged over 50 percent of fair market value of the structure, that's the homes we're focusing on," explained John Lavelle, Lycoming County Hazard Reduction Planner.
He has the enormous task of finding out which properties should go from being someone's home to being off-limits to anything other than open space or recreation.
"Basically for the life of the property, here on out, you can't put much on there," Lavelle added.
In addition to the six properties already approved, planning officials said 15 more homes could qualify for buyouts in future rounds of federal aid.
When that historic flood came through the Loyalsock Creek area of Lycoming County, it washed away homes like along Route 87. Some still not been rebuilt, some have. The federal money is the first step in finding out which homes will not be rebuilt because they're in flood prone areas.
"You're returning to nature its natural flood plain. You're taking folks who lived in that flood plain and moving them to better, safer location, better for everyone," said deputy director of planning William Kelly.
FEMA announced about 20 other properties in our area that qualified for buyout money.
The federal government pays for three-quarters of the fair market value. Pennsylvania covers most of the rest with the homeowner chipping in three percent which could come from insurance money.