The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated an additional $5 million to Lexington County REBOUND (REBuilding Our Neighborhoods after Disaster), the County's Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery program (CDBG-DR). REBOUND is designed to address the unmet needs of people whose property sustained damage during the October 2015.
"Some of the remaining flood issues are just those homes," said County spokesperson Harrison Cahill. "We still have some people who are out of their homes."
Of the 122 applications the county has received for the program, 57 are for residents waiting to have their properties purchased by the county to be developed into green space. Cahill said the county will use some of the additional funds as incentives to get more homeowners to participate in the voluntary, home buy-out option of the program.
"We've kind of sweetened the pot for them. That money will allow us to give them a $5,000 incidental incentive, a $10,000 incentive to purchase a home within the county of Lexington and the third incentive is going to be 10% of the pre-flood value of the citizen's home."
30 of the program's applications are for county residents who want to fix their home in its current location, while the remaining 35 applications belong to residents who have not decided if they want to rehab their home or participate in the buy-out option.
"A lot of these people who may want to do home rehab are still in the flood zone. We want to get people out of these problem areas where flooding is a consistent issue and challenge for them," Cahill said.
The County has partnered with several third-party agencies, which will begin work on home buyout and rehabilitation projects within the immediate future.
"We're hoping to see some movement in this area; starting to get people the assistance they need for the unmet needs that have really soon." Cahill added, they hope to have an update for county officials during the next county council meeting on September 26.
Portions of CDBG-DR Funds can also be used to improve storm water management infrastructure in some areas of the county. In a recent press release, the county also stated that funds may be used to improve other eligible public infrastructure and public facilities in some situations.
Making the County Safer
About 4,000 acres of Lexington County is in a floodplain, or a low-lying area adjacent to a river. During the October 2015 flood, many areas in the county experienced massive flooding.
In May, the county conducted an online survey for residents to share information about flood hazard risks South Carolina Public Radio spoke with Floodplain manager Christopher Stone about how the survey will was the first step to making the county safer and more resilient to flooding events.
Stone says creating a floodplain management plan for the county has been in the works since before the historic flood in 2015. He cited how having a plan in place would make it easier to obtain federal funds. Those funds would help the county create and complete various projects.
Stone added, a floodplain management plan could also be used in concert with maps, other plans, studies and ordinances to help provide a framework for growth.
"This coordination helps to establish sensible growth strategies that try to avoid development in hazardous areas by incorporating higher regulatory standards to better protect buildings from flood damage," he said.