Saturday, August 04, 2001

Flooded residents want out

Corps studying buyout

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Some Fairfax flood victims who want the government to buy and demolish their houses are worried that village officials might block that plan.

        Several residents expressed that concern to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official at a special informational meeting Friday in Fairfax for flood victims.

        “This is the fourth time we've been flooded,” said Mike Bohlen, whose house on Simpson Avenue was damaged in the July 17-18 flooding. “A buyout is the only answer as far as I'm concerned. But I don't know that village officials will support us.”

        Fairfax Mayor Ted Shannon said it's not true that village officials oppose a government buyout to remove houses from Little Duck Creek's flood plain. The Corps can't initiate a buyout of any of the 75 homes in the flood plain without the permission of Village Council.

        “We're not making any decision until the Corps makes a recommendation,” Mr. Shannon said. “We have to know how much money it's going to cost us and what funding is available.”

        He said he believes the Corps will recommend a buyout of homes closest to Little Duck Creek and some flood-control measures, such as a water-retention basin.

        Fairfax was one of the communities hardest hit by last month's flash flooding. Two village residents, a man and his grown daughter, were killed when a basement wall of their Simpson Avenue house collapsed.

        The village assembled representatives of six agencies for Friday's meeting to quell false rumors about buyouts and to provide helpful information to flood victims. About 120 people attended the meeting.

        Roger Setters, project manager for the Corps' district office in Louisville, told residents that the Corps will study Little Duck Creek and make a recommendation on flood prevention measures in six weeks.

        He said evacuating the flood plain may be the safest and least expensive solution. Any structural solutions will be expensive, and some may prove impractical, he said.

        “I don't even know if we can come up with a structural solution to prevent a flood like you just had,” he told residents.

        “There is only one guaranteed way not to be flooded, and that's not to be in the flood plain in the first place.”

        That remark drew loud applause from residents.

        If the Corps and Fairfax approve a buyout of homes, the buyout won't occur for at least a year, Mr. Setters said.

        Cathy Schellhous, whose Simpson Avenue house was flooded, said she wants a government buyout, no matter how long it takes.

        Ms. Schellhous, who has lived in her house for 18 years, said the stress and emotional fallout from last month's flood have been terrible.

        “Last night, when it started to rain, I went to the bathroom and got sick,” she said. “I cannot live with that kind of fear.”


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