Home News-Free Jury eases financial burden on Haughton residents with purchase of flood homes

Jury eases financial burden on Haughton residents with purchase of flood homes

A vacant home in Haughton's Tall Timbers. Many homes damaged in a flood event have been left to be demolished. (Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

Welcome news has come to Haughton area residents who have been in limbo with flood-damaged homes.

The Bossier Parish Police Jury approved an agreement at their Nov. 7 meeting for the acquisition and demolition of 13 homes that were affected by the flooding that hit the area in 2016.

“This has been a long time coming for some of the residents. Some of them didn’t have any flood insurance and lost everything they had and they had to maintain their mortgages,” said Bossier Parish Police Jury President Glen Benton.

The funding that was acquired for the final buyout of the destroyed homes came from an agreement between the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, which is funded through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

“Thank the Lord we got it funded. It’s all the result of the Governors office, they helped us secure the money. So hats off to them,” says Bossier Parish Engineer Butch Ford.

In March of 2016, a slow moving weather system dumped more than 16 inches of rain in parts of Bossier Parish, forcing residents out of their homes as water reached historic levels.

Some of the hardest hit homes from the heavy rains were residences in Tall Timber.

“This event was so unusual because it was so much flooding. …Tall Timbers in Haughton was one of the hardest hit areas, about 20 homes were flooded in there with eight feet of water down to a foot of water,” said Ford.

The National Weather Service in Shreveport reported 18.84 inches of rain had fallen at Barksdale Air Force Base. A total of 16.8 inches were reported at the Red River Research Station and 15.35 inches were reported in Koran.

Due to the impact of high water, some residents of Tall Timbers had to be rescued by boat and water reached rooftops. It was one of the first and hardest hit areas in the parish. Homeowners who were affected by the high waters were unable to return to their homes and some even had to continue to pay for a house that they could no longer live in.

“This is going to be a big burden taken off of their backs once the funding comes through. The uninhabited homes are starting to get run down and the people living across the street from them don’t deserve to have to keep looking at them,” said Benton.

After the water receded, work began for officials to assess the damage that occurred.

The parish applied for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, a buyout program that would give homeowners 75 percent of their home’s appraised value.  The federal funds would come from flood mitigation money from the last three floods in Bossier Parish, in 2009, 2015, and 2016.

It is unknown at this time when funding will be available to residents. But Bossier officials are hoping it will be soon.

“This just got approved and when you are waiting on FEMA you don’t know, but I feel like it will be soon,” said Benton.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.