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Flood repair money available for low-income families

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ANN MARIE AMES
October 27, 2008
— As usual, it's a mixed bag of news when it comes to cleaning up after floods that tore through some Rock County homes and businesses in June.

Some good news: The county will get a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to help low- and moderate-income families outside the cities of Janesville and Beloit fix damage from flooding.


Qualified families can use the money for repairs to things such as furnaces, septic tanks, wells or plumbing, Community Development Manager Dave Somppi said.


A qualified household would have income of $35,550 for one person and about an additional $5,100 for each household member, Somppi said.


The county hasn't determined if the money will be available as grants or loans, Somppi said.


Some bad news: The planning department isn't sure if it can use the money to buy out and tear down houses the federal government says must come down. The county originally planned to use the block grant money for that purpose.


More good news: Right now, the county is applying to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for money to buy out and tear down six houses, planning director Scott Heinig said. That's way down from the department's mid-summer estimate of 80 houses. The applications are due Nov. 3.


The houses that have to come down:


-- Have substantial damage, meaning repairs would total more than 50 percent of the home's value.


-- Are located in the floodway—the portion of the floodplain that holds moving water during a flood.


To land the federal money, the county has to kick in 12.5 percent of the cost of buying and tearing down the houses, Heinig said. The state will kick in another 12.5 percent, and the feds will pick up the rest.


But the state has been overwhelmed by the buyout and teardown applications, Heinig said. While about $23 million was available for that purpose, applications are adding up to look like $40 million he said.


Heinig is not sure how the state will prioritize funding the mitigation process. The Janesville Gazette on Friday could not reach an emergency management spokesperson.


TO APPLY FOR HELP

Rock County has landed $500,000 to help low- and moderate-income families to repair damage from this summer's floods.


A qualified household would have annual income of $35,550 for one person and about an additional $5,100 for each household member.


Families outside the cities of Janesville and Beloit are encouraged to call the Rock County Planning Department (608) 757-5587 as soon as possible to find out if they qualify.



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