TRACY, Mo. -- The flooding in Missouri this past week caused significant damage along the Missouri River.
But it could have been much worse.
After the historic Midwest floods of 1993, many Missouri communities chose to participate in acquisition projects to purchase flood-prone residential structures - commonly known as the federal buyout program.
The program, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and administered by the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), combined funding through FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).
The city of Tracy, in Northwest Missouri near Platte City, chose to participate and eventually 17 properties were acquired. The buyouts cost nearly $450,000 at the time, with FEMA funds providing about $175,000 and HUD CDBG funds about $272,000.
This week, the payoff on the investment was realized, as Missouri River water levels exceeded 1993 levels in certain areas.
"The 17 properties acquired through the buyout would have been inundated by water," said Dick Hainje, FEMA Region VII Administrator. "This would have left residents stranded and cost the city and home owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive flood recovery efforts and repairs."
Hainje added that all properties purchased through the HMGP must be deed restricted in perpetuity for open space purposes, forever eliminating the damage-repair-damage cycle.
Local officials agreed.
"(Tracy) would have been in a lot of trouble if it weren't for the buyout," said Captain Mark Owen of the Platte County Sheriff's Department as he surveyed the damage Friday. He added that he had spoken with a few residents who opted not to take the buyout offer in 1994 and now wish they had.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.