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Louisville Flood Ordinance Workgroup Meets For the First Time

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Justin Brock's home in the Riviera neighborhood.

Louisville officials on Monday began tackling what to do about a flood ordinance that has left some homeowners homeless or living in rough conditions.

Following some major rain events earlier this year, some owners were told they cannot make flood repairs in their homes due to a little-known ordinance. The rule, related to federal flood insurance rates, prohibits the homeowners from making repairs that total more than 50 percent of a home's assessed value over a 10 year period.

In an effort to address a growing number of homeowners affected by the rule, Mayor Greg Fischer appointed a workgroup to consider this issue.

The workgroup met for the first time Monday in a meeting that was informational. No decisions were made, or formally proposed, on how to help these homeowners. There were also no plans made on what to do in the long term with another 12,000 homes sitting in the city’s flood plains.

Ahead of the meeting, Metro Council members Angela Leet, Steve Magre and James Peden introduced an ordinance that would change that 50 percent rule to “50 percent per incident,” which would keep the city in compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program.

But city officials warned the workgroup that the change could put Louisville’s rating in the program at risk, which could eventually affect insurance premiums in the area. Leet said she wants Louisville Metro Council to have an open discussion that takes all these intricate policy ramifications into account.

“If we are just trying to peel back to the minimum criteria to comply with the program, I think, without being very thoughtful in how we do it would be risky for the 5,000 people that are participating in the program,” Leet said.

But many homeowners are asking for buyouts.

Dorothy Beavers, 65, lives in the Preston Park neighborhood with her husband, Ed. She said these policy discussions have come too late for her.

Bevears said she and her husband have weathered seven floods and just want to be bought-out so no one else will have to go through what they’ve gone through.

“Each one of these episodes puts us $10,000 more in debt on top of what FEMA pays,” she explained.

Many homeowners during the workgroup meeting expressed the same desire
More than one resident living in a flood prone home said their health has deteriorated as a result of living in a flood damaged house for so long.

The Metro Council is expected to start considering the ordinance on Thursday. The workgroup is slated to meet for the second time next Monday.