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A dozen homes to be left in Mott flood zone; 9 houses need removed by June 1

About a dozen homes will be left in the flood zone along Cannonball River in Mott when the buyout ends in 60 days.

The Cannonball River poured over its banks and flooded Mott and other portions of Hettinger County in the spring of 2009.

That year, nine severely flooded homes near the Cannonball River in west Mott received assistance from the Roosevelt-Custer Regional Council for Development to submit an application to the North Dakota Department of Federal Emergency Services to be considered for part of the $15.9 million in funds available through FEMA's Hazards Mitigation Grant Projects.

"Because Hettinger County had a mitigation plan, FEMA was able to provide money for the buyout of property in flood-prone areas so they don't get flooded again," said Gene Buresh, community development coordinator with RCRCD. "The land can't be sold to build on and can only be used for public purposes. Without a plan in place, the federal government wouldn't have contributed any funds."

Mott, which is part of a regional plan, had to identify mitigation activities in case of a natural and manmade hazard, like flooding, wildfires, urban fires, winter storms, summer storms, communicable disease, transportation accidents, dam and levee breaks, drought, Department of Homeland Security issues and critical shortage of materials.

Mott qualified for FEMA assistance.

Ten homes applied for the project but one homeowner backed out, said Ken Davis, community development coordinator for RCRCD.

He said two appraisals were completed and five of the homeowners accepted proposals.

All nine homes must be removed from the area by June 1, so the land can be tested for lead-based paint and turned into open space.

"There just can't be any permanent structures put back on that land, so it's likely that it would be used for something like a park area," Davis said.

Jerri Schmidt, Mott city auditor, said FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Projects help people find a way to move out of flood-prone areas.

"This plan allows for people to not have to go through these flooding instances again by helping them get out of living in those areas," she said.

Davis said one of the homes is being moved to New England and another will move in Mott. A third homeowner bought the property and removed the contents before deeding the land back to the city, which will demolish the home.

"FEMA's goal is to have all homes removed because it's a flood zone," he said.

Davis said FEMA is paying for 85 percent of the project, while Mott and the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services will each pay 7.5 percent, which includes the cost of clearing the grounds and laying dirt and seeding.

Davis said Mott had to undergo a similar buyout more than a decade ago.

"We did this process back in 1998, but back then closer to 30 homes were bought out but some did not sell because the appraisals were not as high," he said. "Fortunately, the appraisals were higher in 2011, which made it more feasible for people to sell out now."