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Buyout Program Provides Millions for Flood-Prone Eastern KY Properties

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Monday, June 12, 2023   

Nearly a year after the historic flooding in eastern Kentucky, residents of Breathitt, Knott, Letcher, and Perry counties now have the option to participate in buyouts for homes and properties located on flood-prone land.

Officials say they estimate around 3000 residents in the region are eligible.

Tony Nott - assistant state conservationist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service - said the $14 million program aims to prevent damage, keep residents safe, and turn flood regions into open green spaces - which can help buffer the impact of future flooding events.

"We're not encouraging people to leave their communities," said Nott. "In fact, we've encouraged them to stay in the community. What we're trying to do is get people out of the floodway and out of harm's way."

He added that the agency will purchase properties at their pre-flood appraisal price.

Applications will be accepted until June 30. Interested residents should call their local county judge's office or Regional Conservation District.

Nott added that the purchased properties will be removed from those areas and converted into natural spaces maintained by local governments.

"The sponsor," said Nott, "in this case, it's the fiscal courts of each of those counties - will then manage it and can use as that green space."

Mountain Association's Lending Director Robert Allen said an ongoing problem since the last year's devastating floods is awareness of resources. He encourages people to learn more about the program and apply - even if they think they aren't eligible.

"We sure hope people can receive some of the assistance they need to get back on their feet," said Allen, "whether that's residential, commercial or church properties."

More than 250,000 properties in Kentucky are at risk of being severely affected by flooding over the next 30 years, according to the First Street Foundation's Risk Factor Tool.





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