I’ve never given much thought to those signs from Fate or Life’s little omens that are supposed to help you make decisions. I believe in coincidence and chaos.
But here I am, at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and looking at some paperwork supplied by FEMA. Yes, that FEMA; a 200 year old government agency that no one had ever heard of until their disastrous handling of Hurricane Katrina.
Our house is in a floodplain and in the ten months since we bought the place, I’ve seen the back yard flood twice. The first time consisted of a few inches of standing water all over the yard and stopped just shy of entering the house. The second time the water mark reached ten inches in one corner of the yard, picking large planter boxes up and moving them around as it drained over the next few days. A year before we moved in, the previous owners were awarded $20,000 from their insurance company for flood damage.
FEMA has a large Mitigation Grant (which Charlotte has access to), to purchase at-risk properties within floodplains as it is more cost effective to demolish these homes rather than continue to pay for damages. We did not know about this program; the City contacted us.
For all of the unhappiness and mental unrest I’ve experienced in Charlotte, I must say there is something quite satisfying about the possibility of this house being destroyed. The whole process is long (up to a 18 months, if approved) and gives us a great deal to think about, but this is how it works:
- Once your property meets the criteria (floodplain, flood history, past damages, etc), house is independently appraised
- Storm Water Services (City of Charlotte) makes an offer to purchase the property
- Home is demolished (sometimes burned to the ground as training for the fire department) and the land will forever remain as an open space and may be used as a wetland
In the last ten years, Charlotte has demolished nearly 200 homes, many attached to the same creek that our house is near. There is no harm (or fee) in learning if our house meets the criteria, so this may be something we explore.
Just yesterday I was talking with friends about feeling “stuck”; purchasing a house does guarantee your commitment to an area. Within an hour, my husband was walking through the door telling me about an “interesting phone call from the City”.
Quite the coincidence.