For Daviess County Emergency Management Director Andy Ball, results of a three-year acquisition project have finally come to fruition. Two homes on Wyndcrest Drive in western Daviess County, which have dealt with perpetual flooding for as long as Ball has been with DCEMA, were demolished late last week. These are just two of the nine homes that will be taken down using nearly $1.3 million of funding, a majority of which was provided to the county by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
According to Ball, the homes on Wyndcrest Drive flood at least once a year, but often two or three times annually. While water did enter the homes a few times during extreme flooding conditions, it consistently put the entire road underwater preventing residents from getting to their homes.
“It became a medical issue too because they couldn’t get out and responders couldn’t get in,” Ball said.
One resident contracted an infection in his leg after wading in and out of the water, and several homes grew mold because of the flooding.
Ball submitted an application to FEMA three years ago for funding to buy all 10 homes on Wyndcrest Drive, allowing citizens the opportunity to relocate. Nine of the 10 have opted for the buyout.
National emergencies held up the application, which Ball said was finally approved in July 2018. FEMA will provide 75 percent of the $1.3 million acquisition project, the county will provide 13 percent and the state 12 percent.
But Ball said $277,000 of additional funding was still needed.
Property Valuation Administration appraisals were provided for the FEMA application, but the grant funding required the pre-disaster value of the homes. The additional $277,000 was secured from the Department for Local Government out of Frankfort in December, allowing the project to begin last week.
Two homes are already down and demolition of another two will begin next week. Another two homes will be burned by local fire departments and Environmental Protection Agency officials, allowing them to test how various building materials affect firefighter equipment.
The remainder of the homes will be taken down as Wyndcrest Drive residents close on their new homes. Ball said FEMA allows DCEMA 90 days to close on each home, demolish it and remove debris or they will lose the grant. The entire project will wrap up by May 2020.
Ball said now that homes are being taken down, it is bittersweet.
“I know all the residents by name,” Ball said. “I know their kids’ names, their pets’ names.”
Ball said some residents are newer to the street and are excited that the FEMA grant allows them to get out of the flooded neighborhood. However, one couple has been in their Wyndcrest Drive home for 55 years, believing it to be their forever home.
“It has been tough on them,” Ball said. “They have a lot of memories in their home.”
The total area purchased by the grant adds up to around 15 acres. Because of the flooding conditions, nothing can be built on the property. Ball said he has met with representatives of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to come up with some conservation projects to utilize the land.
“The one that interests me is a lake with a dam and a viewing area that can be used for bird watching and such,” Ball said.
He plans to present several project ideas to the county engineer and to west Daviess County Commissioner George Wathen before anything is presented to Fiscal Court or Judge-Executive Al Mattingly.