Friday, October 1, 2010

Arlington Flood help?

Read the latest flood pattern in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

With federal disaster assistance uncertain, the Arlington City Council is considering issuing bonds to buy and demolish dozens of homes in the Rush Creek flood plain to "get people out of harm's way," Mayor Robert Cluck said Thursday.

"I think that area gets so inundated that we should clear it and do something else with it," Cluck told members of the League of Women Voters during its annual State of the City luncheon.

"There is no way we can control flooding on Rush Creek. It's like a bathtub."

As Tropical Storm Hermine passed through the area Sept. 8, at least 129 homes and 68 units at the Willows at Shady Valley condominiums in west Arlington were damaged by floodwaters. Most affected homes are along Rush Creek near Pioneer Parkway and Green Oaks Boulevard.

At least 11 homes were so heavily damaged that they will likely be demolished, Cluck said.

Arlington officials have said they expect to learn this month whether President Barack Obama will declare Tarrant County and 12 other Texas counties federal disaster areas. The declaration would allow the city and flood victims to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The city will also apply for FEMA grant money to buy out homes that have flooded at least twice, known as severe repetitive losses, funding that is not contingent on a federal disaster declaration, Public Works Director Bob Lowry said.

In the meantime, city leaders are considering their alternatives to pay for buyouts.

Arlington, which has been collecting appraisals on affected properties, would need $13 million to $18 million to buy and tear down structures in the Rush Creek flood plain, Cluck said. Most of the flood victims who attended public meetings since the storm have told city leaders that they want to be bought out.

"Those people want their homes gone. They have been through three or four floods. They are tired of it," Cluck said.

Some have questioned why the city allowed homes and town houses to be built in a flood plain. Arlington officials say the area wasn't flood-prone when much of the construction took place. But the flood plain has expanded as development has spread.

Four years ago, after the last big flood along Rush Creek, the city spent $2 million from FEMA to buy and demolish six houses.

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