Monkey Run flood buyout

Another flooded out home in Monkey Run. / Photo by: Chad Douglas

Floodwaters from last summer have long since receded, but the heartbreak that was left behind is still very much alive.

It could be awhile before that heartbreak recedes in Monkey Run.

That's a small community just south of Hannibal.

KHQA's Chad Douglas went back to the neighborhood where he grew up to talk with former neighbors who say they keep waiting for a flood buyout.

"It's sad. My wife, that's all she knew was her grandparents house. A lot of childhood memories there," says Michael Miller.

This house is owned by Michael and Myra Miller. The home has been in Myra's family for decades. The Millers own two properties in Monkey Run, but just bought this house in 2007. One of the first things they did was put a new roof and gutters on it.

"We were hoping my wife's grandparents would be proud of keeping it going for years to come," says Miller.

But now, the Millers are done. They've been inconvenienced by the Mississippi River three times in the 18 years they've lived in Monkey Run, so they've moved out for good. But they just can't leave their old homes behind.

"One house we have that's flooded, we are still paying mortgage on it. We're paying rent on the place we have currently," says Miller.

"I had to borrow money to build another house. FEMA's not doing anything for me. It very discouraging," says Al Johnston.

Al Johnston and his wife Billie moved to Monkey Run in 1975. They too have been inconvenienced by the mighty Miss too many times.

"After the 93 flood, we built the house new. We built it up higher, FEMA told us to. The insurance company told us to. We built it to their specs," says Johnston.

Still, river water got in the house in 2001 and 2008. On top of that, within the last year, Johnston's home has been vandalized. It was tough for the Johnstons to leave. You can tell they loved this area because they kept coming back to it, knowing there would be future floods. What they didn't count on was two major floods in 15 years. Now they hope they can count on the federal government to come in and give them a fair price for the home.

There are six to eight families in Monkey Run looking for a buyout.

Most of them are frustrated too.

However, the government told the residents a buyout could take six months to two years to complete.

KHQA checked in with some of the government agencies to find out the status of the buyout.

Susie Stonner with the State Emergency Management Agency, or SEMA tells KHQA the flood buyout for Monkey Run is right on track.

She says a buyout can't happen overnight, that's why residents were given the six month to two year time line.

KHQA also spoke with George Lane, the presiding commissioner for Ralls County.

He tells us he doesn't like the long timeline either, but the county is doing its part. In the next week to ten days, a surveyor should be in Monkey Run looking at the situation.

The surveyor will look at the elevations of the first finished floor for each property.

From there a Cost Benefit Analysis will be run.

That shows that for every mitigation dollar spent, a dollar will be saved from future damages.

From there the county will work with the Mark Twain Regional Planning Commission to fill out the application, and get the list of properties prioritized.

Then a budget will be proposed, and offers will be made to the homeowners.

This is strictly a voluntary program, if FEMA approves the application. Homeowners can reject the offer, as can the government.

If the buyout goes through, the land becomes the property of the community, not the state or federal government.

No buildings can ever be built on that land again, and the community is responsible for the upkeep.

The other issue is the cost of the buyout.

The federal government will pay 75 percent, and the county is responsible for the other 25 percent.

George Lane tells KHQA, Ralls County could try for a grant to fund its portion.