Friday, April 18, 1997
Hundreds of Falmouth
homeowners want out

The Cincinnati Enquirer

FALMOUTH - By Thursday's deadline, hundreds of residents of this flood-stricken town had applied for a buyout.

''I have 208 (applications) with me right now,'' Councilman Jeff Carson said Thursday night. ''Whether or not they'll opt for it is another question in itself.''

To some residents, applying is simply a move to cover all bases. If the buyout does not appear favorable to the applicants, they can choose other options, such as rebuilding.

Earlier this month, Falmouth City Council voted 5-1 to apply for federal money to buy homes damaged or destroyed in last month's flood. Owners will be paid a fair market value and can use the money to rebuild somewhere else.

Mike Fields, whose family has owned rental property in Falmouth for generations, was among those applying for the buyout the first day applications were available.

Before the flood, he and his wife, Pam, owned five pieces of rental property. Now,they own three, after two buildings on Rigg Street were washed away.

''We don't have any flood insurance, so this will help us a lot,'' Mrs. Fields said. ''We were making payments on houses that weren't there.''

Among the properties lost was the home Mr. Fields had purchased at auction, after his grandmother died.

''If his grandma's house was still sitting on the foundation, we wouldn't have gone to the buyout,'' Mrs. Fields said. ''He figured he would pass it down to his children, and they'd pass it down to theirs. It just broke us up to see it off the foundation.''

City officials have until April 30 to apply for money to buy out residential property. Under the federal relocation program, the federal government will pay 75 percent, the state 13 percent and the city 12 percent.

Also exploring flood damage options is the town of California in Campbell County, where all but about five of the 27 houses and 20 mobile homes had water damage to their main floors.

California City Commission has called a meeting for 7 tonight at the Methodist Church on Madison Street for anyone considering applying for a buyout.

Residents interested in a buyout must fill out the forms and submit them to the city by Sunday.