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MeckCo buys 37 homes in danger of floods

Mecklenburg County is buying 37 homes in the floodplain along Briar Creek to avoid the long-term costs of disaster relief in the area The county plans to tear down the homes and leave the lots as open space in the event of future floods like the one Tropical Storm Fay caused last summer. That flood caused $15,000 in damage to Jerome Dickens' investment property on Shannon House Drive. He bought the house in 2004 without fully realizing the risk of flooding, so he says the county's offer to take it off his hands, "was a welcome relief, just because I knew that this would not be the last time that this occurred. It might have, you know, added to the long list of foreclosed properties, I guess." Mecklenburg County offered fair market value on 50 homes in the floodplain. Thirty-seven homeowners accepted the offers. Others opted to repair their homes and bring them up to flood plain standards - which meant elevating the homes in some cases. Mecklenburg County Commissioners agreed to fund the buyouts with six million dollars from stormwater services reserve funds and unspent park and recreation bonds. That enabled the county to fast-track the purchases, rather than waiting more than a year to qualify for state and federal funding.