Sunday, May 3, 2015

Flood-prone House Still In Limbo

Fairhope, Alabama. (

705 Cedar Ave.

Everette and Jacqueline Barnette, the owners of a house on Cedar Ave. will have to wait a little longer to see if a federal grant becomes available so that the city may purchase the property, demolish it, and build a stormwater detention basin there.

Mayor Kant said he asked the Governor about the grant's status at Saturday's Aviation Academy event -- and was given a phone number to contact about it.

The Governor said he was not sure exactly where the money was.

The house is #2 on a flood hazard-mitigation list compiled by the Baldwin Emergency Management Agency last summer -- and then forwarded to the state's EMA -- concerning latest damages from the record rainfall event last Spring.

The property did not qualify for a similar grant from FEMA because total monetary losses are still insufficient, according to their standards.


Ms. Cecillia Barnette
Their daughter Cecelia, who now lives in Atlanta, drove for 6 hours to address the city council at its last meeting.

She is a teacher at Christ the King school in Buckhead.

(Mayor Kant missed this meeting)

She said the family is in "dire need" of the council's help; her father has become disabled (wheelchair-bound) with heart and Parkinson's disease -- and requires assistance from her mother and home health assistants to care for himself.

The property has flooded 11 times in the past 20 years, most recently April 14 and 29 of 2014; mold growing in walls may be contributing to health problems.

Getting out of the house before another flood may be problematic as well, she said.

She asked the council  to "make sure" she is on the agenda for their next meeting to "discuss what needs to be done" to finally resolve the matter.

Council President Burrell was not sure any "actionable item" would be ready by that time however, since funding is apparently tied up at state/federal levels.


Kant, Gov. Bentley Saturday
According to the mayor and other records, the developer of the Greenwood Park subdivision, George Roberbs,  built the home on low-lying lot 15 in the late 1970s.

He sold it to Clayton and Cynthia Cooper in 1981; there is a disclosure note on that contract that it had already flooded once before that date -- with stipulations waiving the seller's liability.

The Barnettes purchased the property from the Coopers in 1985, according to county records.

Since that time the Barnettes have unsuccessfully sued the city twice concerning repetitive flooding issues, claiming inadequate drainge installed in right of ways.

The city did make some limited improvements to the street storm drain several years ago.

According to mayor Kant, the city offered to purchase the property after hurricane Ivan in 2004 as part of a settlement, but the Barnettes declined because they thought the appraised-value offer was too low,
A new 40" storm water pipe down Cedar Ave. was considered about that time to address the problem, but that would have cost about the same or more as purchasing the house, and may have made drainage downstream in the sensitive Volanta watershed worse.

The property was appraised at $245,000 last year. 

When (if) the grant comes through, the city would pay a 25% match, possibly about $65,000.


Anonymous said...

Let me see if I have this straight. They purchased a house they knew could flood. The city offered to purchase the house with our money and was rejected. Now they want more of our money to purchase it still? Am I missing something?

Publisher said...

Yes, that seems to be the scenario, although it is not certain they knew of the problem when they purchased the property.

The federal government has decided that instead of paying out assistance grants time after time after disasters are declared, it makes more sense to "mitigate" the problem by acquiring the property for some other useage; a 25% match from the local government entity is required.