UPDATE 2/1/13 @ 10:50 a.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A jury has ordered the city of Huntington pay more than $1 million to 18 families whose homes were hit by flooding.
The Wayne County jurors decided the City of Huntington did not properly maintain the Krouts Creek storm water control system along Spring Valley Drive. They decided that the failure to maintain that system led to a big back up on May 10, 2011 -- flooding more than a dozen homes.
This is the second verdict against the city in three years.
Mayor Steve Williams expects the payout to be closer to half a million dollars -- but admits the problem needs to be fixed.
"This isn't acceptable. It adds costs to our insurance premiums. As we pay more in premiums because of these lawsuits, that means there are people who can't be hired. There are raises that can't be given. There are potholes that can't be fixed," said Mayor Steve Williams.
In 2010, a jury verdict awarded 22 families nearly $775,000.
Not the weather this time, but the government who says "enough's enough!"
FEMA is buying people out in parts of Spring Valley. A bittersweet announcement that means having to start all over again.
Marguerite Webb's dad built her house and she's lived on this street 60 years. Moving day was tough and she remembers it like it was yesterday .
"I thought I'd never move again until I went to heaven, because that was a job," Webb said.
But, Mrs. Webb and more than a dozen of her neighbors in Spring Valley will move again. FEMA's come up with more than $1 million to buy them out.
Tim Keaton says all residents who applied for funding and who were eligible were approved.
Walter Boyle, on the other hand, said he's worried he'll end up living in a ghost town. In the last flood he had nearly 18 inches of water in the house, but his home is not on the buyout list.
"My furniture's floated down the creek, I've had cars moved over towards the creek in my driveway," Boyle said.
"The last time it flooded, it would have been over my head in the basement, it was 59" tall," Webb said.
For Mrs. Webb the day is bittersweet. The fear of flooding -- now erased by the fear of starting over. At 88 years old, she says it won't be easy.
"I feel sad, I really do," Webb said. "We had something that was ours and now they're going to just shove it over. That's tough to think about."
Boyle, conversely, is worried about staying.
"If they're going to buy part of it out, they need to buy it all out," Boyle said. "I think FEMA needs to come in and take a good hard look at all this and re-assess it. It's turning into not only a nuisance now, but it's also a health hazard."
A lot of people in that neighborhood blame an Army Corps of Engineers project more than 6 years ago for many of the current problems.
Now there is a pending lawsuit filed on behalf of all these people claiming the City of Huntington has neglected it's effort to help clear the flood prone area.
The latest development on all that could happen next week in court.
Rep. Nick Rahall announced Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be buying and then demolishing 14 homes in the flood prone area.
The homes are along both Waco Road and Spring Valley Road just south of the Spring Valley Bridge.
“I am glad this funding has finally arrived and will help families move into safer, healthier homes,” said Rahall. “The water left but the heartache continues; now these citizens have the means to restore their life.”
$1.7 million is being spent on the project. Once the homes are bought and demolished the area will be returned to an open space.
The funding includes a $1.2 million Hazard Mitigation Grant from FEMA to the State of West Virginia, with the State providing the remaining $500,000.
The assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued in May 2009, which makes federal funding available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for all counties within the state.
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