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Charlotte Area

County Buys Flood-Prone Doral Apts

Mecklenburg County has purchased 128 flood-prone apartments in East Charlotte and plans to turn the land into open space. There's a most-wanted list on Robert Billings' desk. He's an engineer for Mecklenburg County Storm Water Services. On the list are properties most likely to flood when it rains and Billings has finally bagged the big one . . . Doral Apartments: "This was the top," says Billings. In the massive rainstorms of August 2008, about half of the Doral Apartments flooded beyond repair. Even then, Billings says the county had its eye on the complex and hoped to get federal emergency funds to buy the half that was consistently flooding. Those funds have now come through. It will cost $4.7 million to buy the land, relocate the tenants and demolish the buildings. FEMA will cover 75 percent of that cost. Mecklenburg County Storm Water Services will pay the remainder - $1.18 million - from a fund set aside to buy high-flood risk property. "It's just best to get these people out of the flood plain because in the current configuration they do flood," says Billings. "You know we spend a lot of resources on emergency procedures. Police, fire department, those sorts of things." In the long run, Billings says it's cheaper to buy the land than to let developers keep rebuilding. The Doral Apartments between Briar Creek and Monroe Road in East Charlotte have flooded six times since 1995, with damage topping $8 million. The county will demolish 128 of the apartments by next fall. The resulting 8 acres will be left as open space.