Flood weary residents on Transylvania Beach offered FEMA buyout - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Flood weary residents on Transylvania Beach offered FEMA buyout

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Every time the water rises, they fear for their safety and their homes but a rescue is in the works for a handful of flood-weary residents on Transylvania Beach. 

Mary Howard says it was love at first sight.

"I walked in the front door and you could look straight through to the back and see the water and the river and...I though to myself, 'You had me at hello,'" Howard laughed. 

Yet after more than a decade on the Ohio River, and living through more floods than she can remember, Howard is saying goodbye. She is one of seven homeowners being offered a buyout on the beach.

It's part of an ongoing effort from the Metropolitan Sewer District to purchase 200 flood-prone properties throughout Jefferson County. The money comes from a FEMA grant, and prior to this, much of it has been spent in west and south Louisville.

Many of the Transylvania beach homes are worth $500,000 or more. If the family chooses to sell, they'll be demolished and nothing can be built back in their place. 

"We'll turn those lots into green space," said David Johnson, director of MSD Development and Stormwater Services. "Our plan right now is to go back and plant trees on them once we purchase them."

Howard is one of the holdouts -- not because she wants to stay, but because with the current offer, she says she can't afford to leave. The changing landscape feet from her door is adding more pressure to the deal. Bridge construction cleared the land and Howard says the water is more erratic.

"This last time it came up very quickly," Howard said. "I had a hard time getting out and a lot of other people did too."

Last year one of her neighbors was swept away in a flood and died. She fears it will get worse as houses are cleared away.

MSD says three homeowners have already reached a deal. Love it or not, Howard hopes hers will come through. 

"I just hate to leave, but it's okay," she said. "Time to move on."

The grant from FEMA for the Transylvania beach buyout is $3 million.

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