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Floodplain Buyout (Acquisition) Program
If a building is likely to flood repeatedly, buying and removing it is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce long-term flood damage.
 
Storm Water Services has purchased more than 325 flood-prone houses, apartment buildings and businesses that were in the regulated floodplain. These buildings were in more than a dozen neighborhoods along various creeks. Because of the buyouts, more than 600 families have been moved out of the highest-risk sections of local floodplains.
 
Floodplain buyouts are voluntary. Owners are not forced to sell. Some buyouts are funded completely with local money. Other buyouts also use grant funding from outside sources.

See a list of propertie​s purchased through this program.​​​​​​​​​​

How properties are chosen for buyouts

The most important criteria are a property’s flood risk and the cost effectiveness of a buyout.

Risk factors include:

  • the likelihood of a flood occurring on that property
  • the consequences such as property damage and financial impact.

When determining cost effectiveness, the benefit to the public for buying the flood-prone property should exceed the cost of using public money to buy that property.

Public benefits can include:

  • less tax money spent on emergency rescues
  • less tax money spent on disaster relief
  • less tax money spent to replenish the National Flood Insurance Program
  • restoring the natural floodplain to enhance water quality and the ecosystem
  • increased opportunities for recreation and interacting with nature, such as creek-side greenways
  • improved access to sewer lines for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department crews

Each property has a priority ranking

Each of the 5,000 individual properties in Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s regulated floodplains has been given a flood risk score based on several flood-related factors. Storm Water Services looks at the flood risk scores for individual properties, for groups of properties, and at the overall benefits to the community.

The method for scoring, ranking and prioritizing properties is explained in Storm Water Services’ Risk Assessment, Risk Reduction (RA/RR) Plan. The original RA/RR plan was approved in 2012 by the Storm Water Advisory Committee and the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.

Each year, the plan is updated to identify and prioritize specific properties for flood mitigation efforts including possible buyouts or other techniques to reduce structual flood damage.


How floodplain buyouts are paid for

Some floodplain buyouts are funded with a combination of local dollars and federal grant money. Other buyouts only involve local funding.

Locally funded buyouts

Charlotte-Mecklenburg has two types of floodplain buyouts funded entirely with money from local storm water fees:

-Annual buyouts

Annual buyout properties are selected based on overall flood risk and other benefits to the community. The prioritization process is described above.

-Quick Buys

After a destructive flood, the Quick Buy program sometimes has been used to purchase qualifying buildings with significant flood damage.
  • 2011: 21 houses purchased
  • 2008: 37 houses purchased
  • 2003: 9 houses purchased

Grant-funded buyouts

In the past, most money for Charlotte-Mecklenburg floodplain buyouts came from a combination of federal, state and local funds. To qualify, the property had to meet criteria set by the federal and/or state governments.

Fewer properties now meet the federal and state criteria. In addition, Congress has reduced funding for these types of federal grants.

Sometimes, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police or Charlotte Fire Department crews conduct training exercises at buildings that have been acquired through the Floodplain Buyout Program.

After the buyout is complete, the buildings are demolished or relocated. The floodplain is then restored to a natural state to store and filter excess rainfall and storm water runoff. More about how natural floodplains benefit the entire community.

Storm Water Services plans to continue buying eligible structures as funding is available.

Floodplain Buyout Program brochure 

For more information about the Floodplain Buyout Program: 
David Kroening, P.G.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services 
704-336-5448