Thanks in part to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), property owners in the Glen Jean, West Virginia, area can voluntarily relocate from homes that repeatedly flood. The Dunloup Creek Watershed Voluntary Floodplain Buyout Project allows landowners to sell their property and move to safer homes, funds the removal of the structures and returns the land to a natural floodplain. The city of Mt. Hope or Fayette County will take possession of the land.
ARRA, commonly known as the Recovery Act, was created by the Obama Administration to boost the economy, in part by developing and improving the nation’s infrastructure.
For the Dunloup Creek Watershed project, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was allocated $2.2 million in ARRA funding to buy out landowners who volunteer to move and to restore the floodplain.
NRCS received applications for 255 parcels that repeatedly flood, including 128 primary residencies. The properties will be appraised and offers made will include the value of the home as well as moving and related costs. If a landowner accepts an offer, the house will be demolished and the property returned to its natural state.
The Dunloup Creek Watershed project benefits property owners by removing the risk posed to their lives and properties by repeated flooding. The community benefits from the removal of flood-damaged buildings and the reduced need for emergency services and rescue operations.
The project also benefits the environment by restoring natural floodplain functions, which include the filtering and draining of stormwater runoff. Floodplains also provide habitat for wildlife, recreational opportunities, access to streams and aesthetic benefits. Yards along the stream will be converted to natural stream bank vegetation, reducing stream bank erosion, and water quality in the stream will improve as homes with failing or non-existent septic systems are removed.
This voluntary program could serve as a model for other parts of the state and country.