$3.2M grant could purchase 27 flood-prone Pierce County homes

A Washington State grant could allow Pierce County to purchase as many as 27 homes in flood zones along the Puyallup River and Carbon River, according to Pierce County officials.

“We look for all sorts of funding anywhere we can, from FEMA and the Federal government, to the State for salmon habitat recovery funds,” said Pierce County Water Programs Manager Harold Smelt in an interview that aired last week on Pierce County TV. “In this case, we had a huge appropriation of $3.2 million directly from the State Coordinated Investment, and that’s very big news for us.”

Smelt noted the majority of these homes are ‘repetitive loss’ homes located along what is known as Needham Road, above Orting, and have been flooded more than once. “Most of these people really just want to get out of harm’s way,” said Smelt during the PCTV interview. “We’re very much dealing with willing sellers who want to restart their lives elsewhere.”

Pierce County’s flood buyout program allows the county to purchase flood-damaged property from willing sellers by using grants intended to reduce future flood losses. According to Pierce County officials, moving people out of harm’s way permanently can significantly reduce flood losses in the area. Two years ago, Pierce County released Troubled Waters, a short documentary film about the county’s flood buyout program and the experiences of three families who participated in the program.

More information about Pierce County’s flood-buyout program is available online at piercecountywa.org/flood.

To watch the PCTV interview regarding the grant funding, click here.

To watch the documentary Troubled Waters, click here.

Ledena and Antonio Mendiola, Jr. stand in front of their flood-prone Pierce County home, which was purchased two years ago by Pierce County as part of a flood buyout program. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY PIERCE COUNTY)

Ledena and Antonio Mendiola, Jr. stand in front of their flood-prone Pierce County home, which was purchased two years ago by Pierce County as part of a flood buyout program. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY PIERCE COUNTY)

NOTE: The Tacoma Daily Index attempted to contact Smelt earlier this week seeking more information about the recent funding announcement, including:

  • More specifics of the grant (Which state agency awarded the grant? When was the grant awarded? Is there a deadline for Pierce County to use the funding? Are there any matching grant requirements?);
  • More information about other grants Pierce County has been awarded in the past to purchase property in flood-prone areas;
  • More information for homeowners who wish to take advantage of the program.

This post will be updated if/when more information is received.