CHIPLEY, Fla. — Washington county residents gathered in Chipley on Wednesday night to hear about a flooding mitigation property buy-out program that could help them with residential flooding issues they’ve had since Hurricane Michael.
Residents said they were happy to finally have some answers.
“To know they have a solution, even though it’s long-term, it’s a relief to know there is a solution,” said Pamela Hobbs, a Washington County resident whose neighbors have to use her property in order to get to their own due to flooding.
The program is an attempt to fix that.
“If you have the property and it is flooded and you’re wanting to get out of that property, this is your opportunity,” said Karen Shaw, the Grants Coordinator for the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
According to Shaw, the county is eligible for more than $6 million in federal disaster funding through the buy-out program. Eligible residents are able to sell their damaged and flooded properties to the government for their pre-hurricane values. Those properties would then be turned into permanent green-spaces.
“Our neighbors below us, they lost their homes,” said Terry Raffield, another affected Washington County resident. “Ours came up about 6 inches from our floors.”
The program is voluntary, and government representatives recommend that those who are eligible sign up for it now if interested at all, since the paperwork processing can take months and there may not be another opportunity to participate.
“You can walk away from this program at any time up until the point that we get to the table and we close on the property,” said Shaw.
She said there will most likely be more meetings before the application deadline on December 6th to go over the details of the program and answer further questions.
Interested applicants who could not attend the meeting on Wednesday can pick up a packet at the Washington County Government offices located at 1331 South Boulevard, Chipley, FL..