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Fort Wayne Plans To Buy, Demolish 18 Flood-Prone Houses

Lisa Ryan

Fort Wayne plans to buy and demolish 18 homes and turn the properties into green spaces for floodwater. The city received federal funds Thursday that will cover most of the cost for the buyouts and demolition.

Fort Wayne received a grant for about $863,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. The additional 25 percent comes from the city and the Maumee River Basin Commission.

Bob Kennedy, the chairman of the city’s public works department, says the city plans to buy more houses in the future in addition to the 18. It’s part of a broader plan to turn flood-prone areas of Fort Wayne into green spaces, or empty areas of land designed to hold floodwater when the rivers overflow.

“We’ve been very aggressive since the mid-’80s on buying out homes that have flooded,” Kennedy said. “We’re in a much better place today than we were several years ago.”

Since 1983, Fort Wayne has purchased more than 250 homes.

Kennedy says most of the 18 homes slated for buyouts are in the Junk Ditch area, which is a tributary of the St. Mary’s River. He says some properties are so damaged from recent flooding, the homeowners aren’t even living there.

The city and the commission will begin making purchase offers based on appraisals of the homes. Residents then have 30 days to accept or reject the offer. Demolition will begin in the next few months to turn the properties into green spaces.

While this grant only includes the 18 homes that are pre-identified, homeowners living in flood-prone areas can call 311 to receive possible assistance in the future.

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