Changes in federal guidelines in the FEMA buy out program means homes in and out of designated flood zones are now eligible to be bought out.
The changes came after Doug Coley, who lives in Grifton and has experienced extensive flood damage, went to state emergency management officials and shared the flood stories in his neighborhood.
“It was not just me, it was the neighbors that I have as well because they were experiencing the same flood problems that I was,” Coley said.
Before, only homes in designated flood zones that had flood insurance and could show repetitive damage from floods were eligible for the program. But with the changes, people who live outside of flood designated zones like Teresa Thorn, who has had more than $200,000 worth of flood damage, can now get some much needed assistance.
“I wouldn’t be able to sell my house because it floods, and so this gave us an opportunity,” Thorn said.
The changes happened back in 2013, but Thorn and Coley are both still waiting for the buy out money.
Coley said the flood damage could have been reduced had the town of Grifton made repairs to the ditch behind the homes as he requested.
However, Joe Albright, Grifton’s Town Manager, said they tried to make changes to the ditch starting back in 2011.
“The problem with this ditch for the most part lied outside of our jurisdiction,” Albright said.
In March, the town and Johnson Milltail Drainage District decided to split the cost of the ditch repair to reduce the flooding problems. The town of Grifton paid $9,453.75.
Now that guidelines are changed, those with flood insurance that have had repetitive losses are encouraged to contact their county emergency management to see if they qualify for the FEMA buy out program.
Coley and Thorn will both have their houses appraised, and FEMA will pay them 90 percent of the value, while Pitt County will pick up the other 10 percent.
Once the town takes over the property, they will tear down the houses, but can’t rebuild or sell the land to anyone else.