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Fewer flood buyouts than anticipated in Fort Plain

Saturday, July 26, 2014 - Updated: 4:08 AM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

nicole.antonucci@recordernews.com

FORT PLAIN -- Fewer than a dozen homeowners affected by last year's flooding are expected to accept buyouts from the state, village officials said Thursday.

Thirty-five flood-damaged properties were tentatively approved in April to be purchased in the state's acquisition program, but Trustee Loring Dutcher said many of the properties were not substantially damaged, and and did not meet the criteria oulined in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant program.

"We had nowhere near 30 properties participate. There are maybe seven to 10 properties that got approved," he said. "Many of the people thought that they were eligible for the buyout program because the houses got condemned, but that didn't mean the house had to be torn down. It just meant that that the home had to be cleaned up."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office allocated approximately $9 million in April to the Mohawk Valley for the purchase of 97 substantially-damaged properties.

Barbara Brancaccio, a spokeswoman of Cuomo's Office of Storm Recovery, previously said the $9 million represents the state's share of the buyout program. The majority of the cost -- 75 percent -- is funded by FEMA.

"This is a continuation of a program that already exists in the area," Brancaccio said at the time. "The program includes properties that have damages that exceed 50 percent of the fair market value."

Dutcher said Thursday some of the homeowners have started moving forward with repairs, taking advantage of assistance programs through FEMA to offset some of the costs.

One such program reimburses owners for appliances such as furnaces, washers and dryers that were lost due to flooding.

Other residents who wanted the buyouts have chosen to walk away from their properties, which now sit vacant throughout the village. However, Dutcher said a handful of properties were bought by a local contractor, who repaired them and put them back on the market; Dutcher could not recall the name of the contractor.

Mayor Guy Barton could not be reached for comment, but he previously said he was pleased the state considered the village, which was hard-hit by flash foods in 2013.

For those approved for the buyout, Dutcher said owners are still waiting to see the money.

Through the buyout program, eligible properties are purchased by the state and are then used for environmental purposes including open space, stormwater management and flood protection.

Dutcher could not say when the properties could be acquired.

     

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