LaGrange ponders buyouts

(LaGrange, Mo.) Many cities continue to raise their levees higher to protect their homes from another flood like last summer's.

But a levee won't help the City of LaGrange.

90% of the community is located on a bluff that would never see flood waters.

The other 10% could see at least minor flooding from time to time.

KHQA's Jarod Wells discovered that's why some homeowners are beginning to look at buyouts.

Theres only about 50 yards between the banks of the Mighty Mississippi and the backs of some local businesses. That's why situations like the summer floods of 2008 occur. It may not always be that bad, but year after year water inches eerily close to buildings.

"I will say at some point again they will flood. I can't say when, but the rivers going to come up again at some point," said LaGrange City Administrator Mark Campbell

LaGrange is about a year into what is normall a 2 year buyout process. Property owners are still waiting for appraisals. There are seven businesses interested in a buyout. To be eligible, you must be located in the 100 year flood plain. That's east of old Highway 61 or route B. Once the appraisals are done, offers will be made to property owners.

"One of the main reasons why a lot of this is done is to minimize the risk and cost to taxpayers across the nation for the national flood insurance program," said Campbell. "That's why no other structure will be allowed to be put there because it is a flood hazard area."

"When they come talk to us about 'here's the amount of money we can give,' you're going to look at it and say that's a big loss. And their next statement most likely would be well how much greater is the loss if you stay," said business owner and resident of LaGrange Donald Sherwood.

Donald Sherwood is not eligible for a buyout because his property is in the 500 year flood plain. But he said in general there are a lot of unknowns with the buyout process.

"The answer we're looking for, what is the best next step," said Sherwood.

The city is only dealing with business buyouts right now, offers should be coming to property owners at the end of September. If those are accepted the city is responsible for bidding out work to demolish the buildings.

City Administrator Mark Campbell said if some businesses take these buyouts, it will allow for a better view of the Mississippi.

That would allow the city to market itself as more of a tourist destination.