RALEIGH, N.C. -- Because of Hurricane Floyd, North Carolina is due to receive millions of dollars from the federal government to spend on acquisition of primary residences to reduce costly damage of future disasters.
Under federal law, an amount equal to 15 percent of the estimated total spent on recovery operations for a presidentially declared disaster goes to the state for hazard mitigation to help make communities more disaster-resistant and reduce loss of life and property.
In addition, North Carolina will share in a $215 million appropriation by Congress for mitigation projects in the 11 Hurricane Floyd disaster states.
Although buyout projects are 75 percent funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), they are planned and administered by the state and local communities. It is the local community, not FEMA or the state, that decides which properties will be acquired.
Speculation about buyouts can upset property owners who want to remain and rebuild. They are advised that selling is strictly voluntary and are never forced upon someone. Structures are acquired at pre-disaster fair market value, demolished or removed from the floodplain, after which the land becomes open space owned by the local community and never built on again.
Buyouts require a great deal of public education and community input. Disaster victims often turn to FEMA with requests for buyouts. Questions about buyouts should be directed to the local officials responsible for designating properties.
Local jurisdictions prepare a hazard mitigation application with help from the community and homeowners whose property was lost or severely damaged. The state reviews the application and submits projects that are deemed warranted to FEMA for approval as cost-effective and environmentally sound.
As a result of Hurricane Floyd, the state has thus far received 53 letters of interest in buyouts from hard-hit local jurisdictions. North Carolina's long-term mitigation plan is now focused on acquisition of primary residences within the floodplain.
The application period for disaster assistance closes at 6 p.m. Dec. 14