PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City officials are buying 21 properties in the 1800 block of Cincinnati and Lake Avenues for a little more than $3.9 million. All of them sit in an area that’s known for chronic flooding.
“It was a constant every time it rained or a bad rainstorm, I’d call, and I say, has the water reached your home yet,” home seller Alejandro Rodriguez said.
The problems started after Hurricane Michael damaged the houses. Rodriguez rented his property to tenants and spent around $20,000 dollars fixing damages from the floods.
Long time Bay County resident Linda York experienced the same problem.
York and Rodriguez are the first two to close on their properties as part of this program.
After trying to assist homeowners in mitigating the flooding, city officials eventually decided the only permanent solution is to tear down the houses.
“If you look at the totality of everything that’s been invested in the area and I think 2007 there was installed some additional storm-water piping and 2012, 2013 there was a pumping system that was installed all in hopes that this would fix the issue but what we can’t change is we can’t change the topography of the city and this specific area is kind of in a bowl,” Panama City City Commissioner Josh Street said.
The closing process on the first two homes was challenging but Street said he’s proud of this milestone.
“We’re just so thankful for all the people that have been patient through the process and all the homeowners that have walked through this process and we really are looking forward to being able to get across this finish line and today is just a momentous occasion,” Street said.
Rodriguez and York’s properties were side by side. The townhomes share a construction wall so both owners must agree to participate in the voluntary buyout program.
The city is not allowed to use these areas for residential properties again. It must be converted into green space. Plans call for a storm-water retention pond and a park.