Sitting in her living room more than three years later, after a two-foot flood from Hurricane Florence forced her to rebuild again,
"I do understand that we might and we probably will have another flood. We just might. I just pray and hope we don't, but I've already called the company about lifting it,"
Ultimately, they settled on 13 zones for Hurricane Matthew and are working on nine preliminary zones for 2018's Hurricane Florence, all of which are in federally designated "most impacted and distressed" areas for Matthew and anticipated areas for
Community meetings about the NCORR-identified buyout zones could take place in early 2020, Hogshead said, with people beginning the process and ideally moving in the summer so as to not disrupt the school year.
Hogshead and other state recovery officials expect the demand for buyouts will far outpace the
The buyout fund could receive a significant boost if the
Key to the state's buyout strategy is the idea that the money will be better spent if it is concentrated in certain areas than if it results in a scattered set of purchases.
"If we just opened up applications and said, 'Anybody who wants a buyout, apply to the state,' we would have two here and four here and six here and seven there and we wouldn't really be able to use the land that's left," Hogshead said. "It wouldn't be productive for a community, and we wouldn't get as many people out of the actual harm."
By concentrating buyouts in set areas, Hogshead and other state officials are hoping to make it easier for local governments to use the bought-out land in some constructive way, be that as a community garden, a park or some kind of flood-control feature.
"We've learned these lessons from
Identifying buyout zones
The houses NCORR is trying to purchase through the buyout program, Arlyn said, were typically valued at
Arlyn considered county level data in Matthew's six most-impacted counties for 100-year flood zones and floodways.
He also looked at where previous buyouts occurred, as well as which households applied for a buyout through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. About 3,000 people expressed interest in the program after Matthew, Arlyn said, and 680 have either been funded for acquisition, elevation or reconstruction.
Other data NCORR considered included the location of repetitive loss and severe repetitive loss properties, defined as those where the National Flood Insurance Program paid at least two claims of
"(When) we can complete a buyout from Floyd, where there's already been buyout activity, that's a good indicator that we'd like to continue in that area," Arlyn said.
Arlyn then considered whether there are nearby features such as hospitals, schools or main streets where buying homes out could harm the fabric of a community. He also went street-by-street, trying to see where buyouts could be paired with past efforts or existing green space to have more impact.
Once the general buyout zones were identified, NCORR turned to local officials to discuss whether the buyout zones were accurate or made sense. Often, Arlyn and Hogshead said, those conversations involved local officials requesting that the state expand the buyout zone based on a nearby concentration of low-to-median income people or recurring flooding just outside the floodplain.
"It's been about expanding (buyout zones), not about subtracting, which I'm a little bit surprised by -- that they're ready," Hogshead said.
"If we have major flooding, it's going to flood there again," Currie said. "It is in the floodplain. That part of the city is just not a good place for residents to be."
The area sits near Mollie Branch, a body of water that drains much of the western side of
After Matthew, a handful of residents tried to return to the their houses. They stayed away, Currie said, after
"There's really no one living over there now, it's basically an abandoned area of town," Currie said. "It's sort of like pictures you see from Hurricane Katrina of the Lower
Currie is hopeful that incentives being provided by NCORR will help encourage some of the buyout-eligible residents to stay in
"You certainly don't want to lose population. We're a small town anyways. We can't afford to lose many people, and certainly, if you keep those folks in town -- the way state revenues are and state share of sales tax is, all that stuff is based on population," Currie said, noting that several homes in the buyout zone belong to longtime
Hesitant to sell
Sitting by her Christmas tree,
"They want my car for a reason," Lacy recalled her father saying. "If it means that much to them, think what it means to me."
For Lacy and her husband, that mentality carries over to the house, one that they've rebuilt twice in the last five years on land that has been in her family for generations. Flood insurance rates have risen, the neighborhood is quieter than it was before Hurricane Matthew and Lacy is on self-described "pins and needles" during every heavy rain.
But she and her husband are in
"I may regret it later," Lacy said, "but I doubt it."
This reporting is financially supported by Report for
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