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River Valley citizens looking at buy-outs for flood-prone homes

River Valley residents impacted by June’s flooding could have their homes bought out through a potential grant.

GREENWOOD, Ark. — Wednesday night, the City of Greenwood and the Western Arkansas Planning & Development District held a meeting for a voluntary buyout project, which is still in its early stages. 

“There were quite a few homes that were flooded and there were water rescues,” said Director of Community Tracee McKenna.

McKenna explained her organization as, "an agency that assists 6 counties here on the western side of the state and all the cities with grants and special projects."

This specific project would go through a FEMA grant to allow impacted cities to get money to buy homes in the flood plain.

“We are then required by FEMA to demolish those structures and have that turned into a green space,” said McKenna.

The offer would be based on an appraisal. Renters would get money to move and re-establish.

“We don’t want anybody to be homeless or without a place to live because of this program," said McKenna. "It's meant to be mutually beneficial for the residents and the city.”

An application will be sent to FEMA by January once they get a headcount of those interested… and McKenna says they anticipate the money will be awarded for the project next September.

As for now, McKenna is just seeing who’s interested in the program. 

"It’s just going to be a waiting game,” McKenna said.

"After that flood event that happened in June, I thought it would probably be a good idea to move,” said meeting attendee John Koesy, one of the many people across Fort Smith and Greenwood impacted by the flood. 

Koesy told 5NEWS he considered moving, but now he is considering the possible buyout option.

"I don't know, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of offer they make on the property.”

Koesy says he can't control mother nature, so he might give the possible project a try--after getting questions answered.

“This has happened twice since I’ve lived down there and both times I avoided being wiped out, and the thrird time could be the charm. I got to watch out," said Koesy.

The project is voluntary and McKenna cities won’t be able to push eminent domain. 

The next meeting for this is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. at the River Park Events Building at 121 Riverfront Dr., Fort Smith, Arkansas 72091.

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