Seeking a federal buyout for flood damaged properties

The buyouts take a long time, there’s a lot of money at stake and we want to make sure we’re doing it right.

It is estimated that the 2013 floods caused $4 billion in damage. Thus far the state has received $1.7 billion, mostly from the federal government to help property owners and other flood victims, but many other homeowners are still waiting for federal money to buy out their properties which are either too damaged to repair or in a flood zone that makes it too risky to rebuild.


Abby Shannon is the long range planning manager for Boulder County, that means she is helping residents in unincorporated Boulder County who wish to avail of the federal buy out program. “The purpose of the buyout program is hazard mitigation, it’s to buy out private properties as a way to prevent development from ever happening there in the future.”  Shannon says once the properties are bought out they become open space “they’re not used, they’re open in perpetuity, they’re not redeveloped.” Shannon is currently working with approximately 50-60 families in unincorporated Boulder County who are seeking a buy out from the federal government.

There are currently two different federal buyout programs, both of which are very bureaucratic and can be difficult for homeowners to navigate.

The FEMA program offers the pre-disaster fair market value, the HUD program offers the pre-disaster value ONLY if the property is in the regulatory flood plain.

Shannon says it’s a one size fits all federal program which creates problems for Colorado as the programs are tied in to rules and regulations developed after Hurricane Sandy which work for coastal areas but less so for mountainous areas dealing with flash floods and mud slides.

Shannon says the biggest hurdle right now for homeowners seeking a buyout is the time it is taking which Shannon says is not unprecedented.