- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2008

ST. LOUIS (AP) | Debbie Halcomb unpacked boxes as she moved back into her flood-damaged home, but worried that her damp carpet harbors mold.

She enjoys the normally tranquil setting of Winfield, a community about three miles from the Mississippi River. But she’s had enough. She’s hoping for a government buyout so she can move to higher ground.

“I don’t know if I can take another flood,” Ms. Halcomb said.

After the Great Flood of 1993, thousands of properties in flood plains around the Midwest were bought out by the government. Now, weeks after the latest massive flood, buyouts are again being considered in at least five states - Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

Residents in areas that qualify can choose to sell their properties to their city or county, with 75 percent of the costs paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Communities that use FEMA dollars agree to demolish structures on the properties and not develop the land, except for recreational use such as parks.

More than a half-dozen Iowa communities are likely to consider buyouts, said Brett Voorhees, spokesman for Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The state won’t know which communities will apply for funding until Sept. 12 when notices of interest are due.

Mr. Voorhees said it will be months before officials know how much money FEMA will provide. Typically, there’s not enough for all buyouts.

“It’s a very competitive process,” he said.

Officials in Des Moines, Iowa, are moving ahead with a buyout plan for a neighborhood north of downtown called Birdland Park. They intend to request $1.2 million from FEMA to buy up to 20 homes damaged when the Des Moines River breached a levee in June.

In southeastern Iowa, 400 residents of Oakville are still considering their options. Last month, the Iowa River broke through a levee and inundated nearly every building.

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