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Louisville Metro Council OKs Temporary Change To Controversial Flood Rule

Justin Brock in the flood-damaged first floor of his house.

Louisville Metro Council members unanimously approved an ordinance Thursday temporarily changing a flood rule that has left a number of homeowners with flood-damaged homes they can’t repair.

The newly approved ordinance changes a previous rule prohibiting homeowners from repairing a house that has sustained damages totaling more than 50 percent of its assessed value over a 10-year period.

That “1o-year period” part of the rule has been changed to only apply to one incident, which will finally let some of the 23 Louisville homeowners fix the unlivable homes they can’t repair. The change will only last for six months until a longer-term solution is reached, though.

Concerns had been raised about changing the rules because of how such a move may affect the city's flood insurance rate. But many council members said passing the measure was simply the right thing to do to give some immediate relief to some residents who were put in an impossible situation.

“In the name of compassion, which we in Louisville are known for, it was obvious that action by leadership needed to take place,” said Councilman Steve Magre, who sponsored the rule change and fought for its passage.

But this doesn’t help everyone. Councilwoman Angela Leet said the change will help a lot of people negatively affected by the rule, but it won’t help all the homeowners who sustained flood damage during rain storms this past April and May.

“There will be some folks who are currently impacted that this will not address their problem because they are beyond the 50 percent for one event,” Leet explained.

But she said it was important to pass the change for the people it would help, such as Louisville resident Justin Brock.

Brock was flooded out of his home in the Riviera neighborhood in March.Because his house had been repaired too often, he was not allowed to repair it and make it livable again.

Since then, Brock has been practically homeless and pleading city leaders to intervene.

Brock, like many of these homeowners, was not made aware of the "10-year rule" or how much damage already repaired at his house when he bought it.

Following the vote on Thursday, Brock said he was relieved to finally get help, allowing him to finally be able to “start rebuilding his life.”

However, he said this didn’t settle the issue for good.

“You know, I think a six-month Band-Aid is not the answer here," he said. "I think that disclosure first and foremost needs to be important going forward to where the can’s not being kicked down the road and we are continually putting family’s in harm’s way because that’s what we are doing.”

The Flood Mitigation Workgroup tasked with solving some of these long- and short-term problems will next meet Monday. Leet, a member of the workgroup, said the members will talk about short-term solutions for those affected homeowners that will not be helped by this rule change, among other things.