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The Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) is hard at work, even during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic. Rain and flooding doesn’t stop, and staff continues SMC’s mission to protect people and property in Lake County from flooding and flood damages.
SMC is currently implementing three projects to acquire up to 23 repetitively flooded properties throughout Lake County. Last week, SMC acquired three properties, including one in unincorporated Zion. All three properties are currently flooded due to the recent rain Lake County received. SMC also acquired five properties last month: one home in Gurnee, three homes in Highland Park, and another in Riverwoods. These acquisitions are part of the first of two projects for which Lake County has received 100 percent funding through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Water Resources Flood Mitigation Program.
In the coming months, these properties will be demolished, and the space will be returned to open land, ensuring that it becomes a place where flood waters can settle naturally without damaging homes.
Floodplain Buyout Program Property Located in Zion, Illinois.
The buyout of repetitively flooded property is one of SMC’s most cost-effective flood reduction measures. Flooding may impact the stability of a home, damage or destroy personal property, impact property values, and lead to injuries or loss of life. When a property experiences repeated flooding, costs for the property owner, the community, local emergency services, and the state increase. Historically, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Implementation of the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004, repetitive loss properties accounted for one percent of all properties insured through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, nearly 25 to 30 percent of NFIP flood claims nationwide were from repetitive loss properties. The number of repeatedly flooded properties has been increasing by an estimated 5,000 each year.
SMC has administered the buyout program since 1990, acquiring more than 200 repetitively flooded properties across Lake County. Flood buyouts provide great benefits to the community and its members. For taxpayers, buyouts reduce the public cost for local, state and federal agencies that provide evacuation, emergency shelter, and debris removal services. In addition, buyouts improve flood storage while also supporting water quality improvement. Learn more about SMC’s voluntary floodplain buyout program.