Cherokee County officials ask state for buyout money

Cherokee County officials ask state for buyout money

Some homeowners in Cherokee County may have an incentive to move with the moving cost partially paid by the county itself. County officials are trying to convince state officials to release some money for a buyout.

Flood waters on Watermelon Lane, near Shoal Creek, are a thing of the past now. But there’s still a sea of emotions from what happened after Christmas.

“It would by like there was a fire and everything was going to be destroyed,” says resident Kelly Scott.

Emergency officials told Scott there was a good chance her home would become the skeleton of a house. Thankfully, flood waters rose to only a few feet inside Scott’s home. Major cleanup continues for her neighbors.

“If you live in a flood plain and your house is damaged during a flood, it’s going to cost 50 percent or more of the value of the house to repair it, then there’s certain guidelines they have to meet,” says Cherokee County Emergency Manager Jason Allison.

Allison says affected homeowners have to raise the house one foot above the projected level of a 100-year flood, the type of flood that has a one percent chance of happening every year. People can also tear down their home.

“Those are the only two options,” says Allison.

But Allison wants homeowners to have a third option, one that lets Cherokee County buy land from homeowners. The land would be cleared of vacancy, forever slated to stay that way. Twenty-seven households, living near water like Scott, have shown interest in their lands being bought out.

“That’s just that many less families that, in the event of a flood, we don’t have to send emergency responders out there trying to rescue them,” says Allison.

But you can count Scott out of this proposed voluntary deal.

“We said, though, if we saw another flood in our lifetime, we would leave. But we’re taking a chance by staying here,” says Scott.

Scott and her family can’t afford flood insurance. It’s a gamble she’s willing to take.

If the proposal is approved by the state, selected homeowners would receive a letter in the mail letting them know the appraised value of their land, and how much money the county is willing to pay for the land. The offered price will depend on how much money is released by the state for this proposal.