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Story Archives: Jury hears buyout options
|Jury hears buyout options|
A team of specialists from Gov. Bobby Jindal's office outlined a flood buyout program to Franklin Parish Police Jurors which could make the parish a landowner with "greenspace" to maintain.
Casey Levy, state hazard mitigation officer, told the jury at its January meeting last week that a special buyout program, "allows the parish to buy and demolish property and create green space for ever and ever."
"Basically, that's it," Levy said, "It does have to be cost beneficial in a very complicated formula."
Levy said his state office manages five different mitigation programs for the federal government, but in the program of most interest to the jury mitigation is the key word.
"This is the hazard mitigation program," Levy said. He indicated funds for the program flow from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the state to the homeowner.
"And we deal only with the homeowner," Levy said. He said in answer to a question that rental property could fall under the program as long as the property owner was participating in the voluntary decisions.
"This program is not without cost to the owner," he said, "usually about a 25 percent cost."
"Insurance payments and settlements also come into the picture." he said.
"FEMA looks at this as a risk reduction program for the future," Levy said while addressing the fact that the parish would become owner of any purchased property.
Bob Mears of West Monroe and a consultant to the parish, asked state representatives about other options, including moving or raising houses in flood prone areas.
Levy said those options fall into different programs.
Leroy Scott, a jury member who has been calling for buyout program information since Hurricane Gustav struck the parish last September, called for the jury to create a special committee. The jury agreed with Scott, President Harvey Ray Guimbellot and vice president Jackie Johnson assigned committee duties.
"If you ever go through a flood once, that's enough," said Scott in a prelude to the presentation, "but two or three times, that's really tough."
Levy suggested the next steps include an orientation for Mitch Reynolds, Franklin Parish Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, from his office and a system of identifying residents who might wish to participate in a buyout program.
Reynolds, who asked Levy to appear before the jury, will have administrative responsibility for any future buyout in Franklin Parish.