Torrential rainwater will no longer be a concern for 17 Glenview homeowners who have opted to participate in a voluntary buyout of their flood-prone residences. Eighteen total homes were eligible in the program that was first introduced in November and gave owners until March 31 to make a decision.
It is a joint cooperation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) and administered through the village’s office. Its mission is to prevent further damage and financial impact to a vulnerable flood plain that sits on the north branch of the Chicago River. The area includes lower Pine Street and the south circles of the village such as Raleigh and Longvalley roads that have been ravished by flood damage, most recently in two back-to-back occasions in 2013.
Under the plan guidelines, federal funding will buy the homes, which will then be demolished and turned into green space where the river can continue to flood without repercussion. With only one holdout, the program was a considerable success and comes a relief to federal and local officials.
“There was no other cost effective solution for this area,” said Joe Kenney, director of community development for Glenview, pointing to a study MWRD started more than five years ago to analyze area waterways and their impact on regional flooding. “There are 20 square miles that are tributary to the Chicago River, which flow down through Glenview. During these big rains, that puts the roads and homes under water. So it was determined that returning this area to open space was the best way to solve this local flooding problem.”
After MWRD completed its study, the village of Glenview applied for FEMA funding, which provided $3 million, and MWRD contributed the rest of the support that ended up totaling $11 million. The village did not provide funding. The amount each house received was different and relevant to appraisals, said Kenney. “Each house went through two different appraisals and received an average of the two figures,” he said.
The process works like any other home closing with walk throughs and a final vacation date upon which the village will start to demo the area 90 days thereafter with full completion of the project on track for November. Though the homeowners were not officially surveyed about their imminent plans, Kenney said some are planning to stay in Glenview while others have expressed interest in buying property elsewhere.
Kenney said this is considered a one-time program that will not be repeated nor is it aligned with any other village initiative such as the Storm Water Area Management Plan (SWAMP).
“Local flooding will still be a priority for Glenview, and we will still come up with plans at the village level to deal with it,” he said.