Jasper County officials discuss Kendricktown flood plain buyout

Jasper County officials discuss Kendricktown flood plain buyout

Jasper County’s commissioner meeting room was above maximum occupancy for the meeting between Kendricktown residents and county officials.

County officials are in the works of determining whether a county buyout of flood plain properties in and near Kendricktown will take place. Over a dozen homes in Kendricktown were damaged by floods, with varying levels of habitability remaining.

“Most of the homes there, the floodwaters would have got into the electrical, heating, plumbing, in addition to just saturating some of the building structure. So there’s safety components as far as occupancy,” flood plain administrator Clayton Cristy said.

Cristy addressed resident questions regarding unlawful occupancy if a structure is determined to have substantial damage. The penalty carries a $500 fine for residents unlawfully living in their homes when officials deem them unsafe.

“Trying to get back home, but now we understand the county isn’t going to allow it, honestly, nobody’s voice got heard today. They actually listened to what they wanted to listen to. They didn’t listen to us,” disgruntled resident William Stanley said.

Stanley was the only resident on the agenda to speak at the commissioner meeting, but he was joined by Tim Snethen. Over a dozen homeowners were present, asking questions and voicing their grievances.

“In order to start repair as we discussed in the meeting today. We need to, as a county, finish our assessment, determine the level of damage to their structure, to determine which path they’re on. Substantial damage or not substantial damage. Either way, after that they still need a flood plain development permit to move on,” Cristy said.

The potential buyout is completely voluntary. If residents do not agree with the value determined for their home, they do not have to accept the buyout at all. The buyout itself has several steps, which include talks with FEMA, assessing eligibility for buyout, budgeting the process, evaluation of cost of homes, acquisition and demolition. The last buyout Cristy performed took 18 months to complete, but was a simpler situation than that in Kendricktown.

FEMA would contribute the biggest portion of money, then the county, then organizations that would match local funds.

“If the county wants to buy it, I’ll sell it. But it’s going to be at my price not theirs,” Stanley said.

The residents present at today’s meeting are all put up in temporary housing at the Carthage Inn and Econolodge. Red Cross is paying for the motels, but that funding will stop after Saturday. A Red Cross official was present at today’s meeting and vowed to take the information back to their long term funding committee.

“Well every morning I wake up thinking that its like all of this stuff here is still a nightmare. But as soon as my feets hit the floor, I realize it is actually reality. There ain’t no way around it, (sic)” Stanley said.