Bittersweet Buyout

By Erika Mahoney

December 6, 2012 Updated Dec 6, 2012 at 11:13 AM EDT

Town of Union, NY (WBNG Binghamton) After months of waiting, Town of Union residents who opted for their homes to be bought out, learn the program is coming to fruition.

Town of Union Supervisor Elect Rose Sotak said Wednesday the town just received word from FEMA confirming all 176 applications for the buyout are expected to be covered.

Sotak said the news is a relief, and comes at a wonderful time, during the holiday season.

"It's been a lot of stress for a lot of our residents," said Sotak. "They're renting, some may have purchased another home, they are still paying their taxes, they are mowing lawns, and they still may be paying a mortgage on their other property."

One family in Fairmont Park has been living in their flood-damaged home since September, anxiously awaiting the decision.

"They told us in June they would probably be buying the houses," said Laurie Jones. "These houses have sat here all summer."

But Jones said it seems like it was just yesterday when flood waters came crashing through their home, leaving nine ft. of water and mud.

"The walls have been fixed, but never re-painted, just because we are in for the buyout and we didn't want to spend a lot on it because we were not sure if we were staying," said Jones.

She added this uncertainty has also weighed on neighbors.
Down the street, debris and "keep out" signs dot the neighborhood.

Even then, Jones isn't sure they will accept the buyout. Her husband built the house.

"I love it here, we are on a nice, quiet dead end," she said. "My kids grew up here, but we've been flooded badly twice.”

Her son, who is in college, believes starting over is the right thing to do.

"For my parents, I think that would be a lot easier on them, to not have to go through that again, especially when I'm not around, to help clean up all that stuff," said Seth Jones.

It's a bittersweet moment. Even after months of waiting, the option comes with a heavy heart.

Before FEMA can finalize the buyouts, it must allow a 15 day period for public comment.

Comments can be submitted to FEMA by mail or email.

Sotak said homeowners don't need to do anything now. The town will contact them when it's time to complete paperwork.

The plan is to close all properties in April.