Demolition crew tears down house in FEMA program

AN EXCAVATOR used by a Reinicke Construction work crew stands idle while the dump truck that it had filled earlier hauls away debris from the site. The owners of the house at N.E. 2nd St. and Summit Ave. are having it demolished as part of a FEMA mitigation program that was enacted after the 2019 flooding in Madison.

On Tuesday morning, another Madison house of N.E. 3rd St. and Summit Ave. was demolished by a contractor after the homeowners had completed part of the process in having the federal government purchase the property as part of a hazard-mitigation grant program.

Workers with Reinicke Construction of Madison were tearing down the house at 522 N.E. 2nd St. with an excavator and hauling away debris with a dump truck.

According to Mayor Marshall Dennert, who has worked as a local coordinator with FEMA, the demolition site joins another two pieces of property along S. Lincoln Ave. that had the buildings torn down as part of the FEMA mitigation program.

Earlier this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and South Dakota Office of Emergency Management announced that FEMA had provided $3.3 million to four South Dakota cities to purchase flood-prone land and remove structures from their floodplain. The cities are Madison, Sioux Falls, Dell Rapids and Yankton. The mitigation program was enacted in response to property damage that occurred after the September 2019 flooding in Madison and other South Dakota communities.

Dennert said the owners of another seven properties in Madison had closed the paperwork to sell their lots. The owners of another four properties are currently working on completing the paperwork. Dennert expected one of the property owners to finish their work in August.

FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program helps communities acquire property so that property owners can relocate from high-risk areas and avoid future property-damage claims related to flooding. After the relocations, the local communities are expected to take possession of the properties in perpetuity.

FEMA's grant program pays for 75% of the purchase of each of the properties. State government has decided to provide 10% of the total program to the four communities as the state's share of the mitigation program. The property owners are expected to pay the remaining costs with a 15% share.

In 2020, Madison officials had agreed to serve as a sponsor to city property owners who would submit applications to FEMA's hazard mitigation program. Dennert told city commissioners that the city and its property owners had three years to complete their work in removing structures and turning over the flood-prone property to the city.

Earlier this year, Dennert said the property owners could back out of the mitigation program at any time before signing the closing papers. After the signings, the property owners should receive 85% of the value of their property appraisals. Then, the owners are expected to pay for expenses such as utility disconnects, structure relocation and/or demolition.

The property owners are responsible for any expenses over and above the mitigation project estimates. If the costs are less than the estimates, the property owners are expected to return the extra money to the federal government.