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Home Buyouts Offered To Flood Victims In Wyoming County

TUNKHANNOCK TOWNSHIP — Property owners in Wyoming County learned how officials want to use grant money to buy out and demolish buildings ravaged by the de...
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TUNKHANNOCK TOWNSHIP -- Property owners in Wyoming County learned how officials want to use grant money to buy out and demolish buildings ravaged by the devastating flood of 2011.

Thursday flood victims packed a meeting with state and local leaders to find out how they can get that help.

For the people who packed the Wyoming County Emergency Management Agency building near Tunkhannock, they all have one thing in common.

They are sick and tired of their homes flooding out.

“Every time you`re living on edge whenever it rains so this week they`re talking heavy rains so,” said Harry Guilich from Monroe Township. “You`re wondering about it and wondering, am I going to have to get everything out of the basement, everything in the garage, move my cars.”

The most recent major flood disaster in Wyoming County was in 2011 when Hurricane Irene came through in late August, quickly followed by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee in early September.

“This time I lost my whole first floor,” said Ruth Ann Fowler from Mehoopany.

“My foundation`s getting weak so that`s what I`m really worried about, the next one might take out my foundation,” said Guilich.

Now the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency say there is $8.5 million of state grant money that can go to relocating people who still live in flood plains in the county and who were affected by Irene and Lee.

PEMA will buy their properties, demolish their houses and pay for families to move to new homes.

The Wyoming County EMA Director says it's better to spend this money pro-actively than to spend even more money, and maybe lose lives, after a disaster.

“When flooding hits and water rises, it`s devastating. We have people that get trapped in homes, that need to be rescued,” said EMA Director Gene Dziak.  “'What we`re trying to do here is make it safe.”

Properties that get bought out will then be owned by the local municipality and will be turned into green spaces, meaning no structures will be built there.

Homeowners have to apply for the voluntary program.

However, PEMA says this is a last chance opportunity for those affected by Irene and Lee.

“We`re coming to the end of the grant cycle for those two disasters,” said Stephen Bekanich with PEMA. “If they want to leave and get out of the flood zone, that they have the opportunity to look into the program.”

PEMA says this process will be fast moving.

Homeowners need to have a letter of intent indicating they want the assistance to PEMA by October 15th.

Applications need to be in by November 15th.