Disaster hit homeowners seeking buy-outs

BY STACI WILSON

Nearly one dozen Susquehanna County homeowners are seeking federal buy-outs for their properties damaged in Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee earlier this year.

Disaster specialist Donna Erat, hired by the county to write the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program application, met with the affected residents Thursday night. Erat’s services were also utilized inSusquehannaCountyafter the 2006 flood event.

The Dec. 30 grant application deadline for destroyed or substantially damage homes –homes with damages that total over 50 percent of the fair market value – is fast-approaching, Erat told the group.

“The extent of damage (inSusquehannaCounty) was not as severe as it was in 2006,” Erat said. “No houses were blasted off foundations or washed downstream.”

Of the group, only one property seemingly qualifies as substantially damaged.

Two of the four foundation walls of Michael Sannikov’sMain St., Lanesboro home were destroyed. Since the storms hit, Sannikov’s family has been living elsewhere and is looking to have the home acquired.

“At this point, it’s not worth it to put money into the house,” Sannikov said.

“The rest of us have appliances, furnaces, carpets and well pumps we keep replacing,” anotherMain St., Lanesboro attendee offered.

After some discussion Erat noted that most of the homeowners were suffering repetitive property losses  caused during several flood events. The repetitive loss claims buys more time for submitting the application. The deadline for the second round of HMGP funding is in February, Erat said.

Several otherMain St., Lanesboro homeowners are also seeking to be bought out after experiencing major flooding just over five years ago.

The majority of those present also carry flood insurance – information Erat said would help make the grant application stronger for those looking to have their properties acquired.

She said properties that make frequent or multiple claims to the National Flood Insurance Program are a high priority for acquisition.

Erat plans to re-focus the grant application to stress “that we’re going after repetitive loss – clearing the county’s National Flood Insurance Program of repetitive loss structures.”