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Panama City Commissioners approve voluntary homebuyer program

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 9:17 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - During Tuesday’s Panama City Commission meeting, residents spoke out about the constant issues they are having with flooding.

“A lot of us are being uprooted from living in a house for a long time. This was gonna be my retirement home, my forever home,” one resident said.

Flooding has been a constant problem for some Panama City residents.

“It’s just frustrating, that we do everything we can to try and protect our houses, and then we got vehicles, county vehicles, city vehicles, coming down our roads and no disregard for the people,” another resident said.

But one program could move residents out of a flood zone.

Commissioners voted to approve the voluntary home buyout program: a state-funded program to purchase flood-prone or damaged property.

“And so there’s a significant impact that’s happening to these homeowners and we’re going to do everything we can to get them helps. And through this program we can,” Commissioner Josh Street said.

The city has $5 million for around 20 homes, which covers the value of the property as well as administrative and demolition costs.

Also helping residents move into or purchase a new home.

“But the vast majority, the overwhelming majority is going directly to the homeowners,” Street said.

One resident says if she could move out tomorrow she would.

“I was gonna stay, there before but the flood of last week. Gone. If I could move tomorrow, I would be gone,” a resident said.

“Some of these homes have flooded six or seven times since Hurricane Michael. So you’re talking about people that are receiving, some of these have flooded at least two or three times this year,” Street said.

Street says appraisers will go out into the community and see what the market was before Hurricane Michael.

They expect to have the first 20 plus homes done sometime in the summer of 2022.

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