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Workgroup Finalizes Buyout Plan For Flood-Damaged Louisville Homes

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

Louisville’s Flood Mitigation Workgroup met its 30-day deadline and finalized recommendations Thursday for what to with some homes that sustained serious flood damage during rain events this past spring.

Following news that some homeowners in Louisville were left homeless because of a rule they never knew about, Mayor Greg Fischer appointed the workgroup to addressthe issue.

“I believe that it does demonstrate that when there is a need that involves public health and safety that we as a community can come together and be able to develop a set of recommendations and a plan that we can implement to be able to address the most severely damaged homes,” said MSD Director Greg Heitzman, who chaired the workgroup.

The proposed plan will need final approval from Louisville Metro—as well as funding from Metro government, Louisville MSD and others.

Heitzman said the proposed plan would cost $3 million.

“The more we can get to spread this burden across multiple community partners, including FEMA and insurance proceeds, the more homes we can buyout,” he said.

Recommendations include a temporary change to a local rule that prohibited homeowners from fixing a house that had sustained repairs over a 10 year period exceeding 50 percent of the home's value.

Last month, Metro Council members relaxed that rule to just apply to one incident, instead of a 10-year period. As a result of that change, about 10 homeowners became eligible for permits to repair their homes.

The next recommendations would cover what to do with about 12 other homes that were flood-damaged yet met that limit in just one storm this year.

Group members recommended a short-term buyout program ending in November.

Those 12 homes would be first in line for the buyouts, but the total program aims to purchase about 30 homes that have sustained repeated flood damage. The proposal is for grants up to $100,000 a home.

But, those numbers all depend on the Metro Council’s approval and whether funding is secured.

Metro Council members are in the middle of discussing the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. Amid those discussions, members will likely decide how much or whether to fund this proposed buyout program.

The next phase of the workgroup will address a long-term buyout program for other flood-prone homes—as well some disclosure rules to notify homeowners about current flood rules.

There are currently about 12,000 homes sitting in the city's flood plains.

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