Pierce County purchases river related, flood-prone and flood damaged properties from willing sellers primarily using Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants. Funding from FEMA is limited and demand is high for this program. The FEMA grants require a local match, which is funded using a portion of Real Estate Excise Tax (REET).
We keep a list of property owners interested in the acquisition process. Properties are ranked and prioritized to determine which properties will result in the highest benefits in preventing future flood damage respective to costs. Recently flooded areas take precedence over other properties. These buyouts provide a permanent solution to the risks and damages of repetitive flooding. They also significantly reduce the costs to the county, state and federal agencies associated with:
Repetitive flood loss insurance claims
Background on FEMA Grant Money Almost all flood insurance in the United States is sold through private insurance companies, but backed by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Purchasing flood insurance for high risk properties is one of the single biggest means for a property owner to transfer the risks associated with flooding and taking responsibility for and protecting their personal assets.
The NFIP has developed beneficial programs for removing the highest risk properties (those that will likely result in big insurance claims) from the floodplain and the insurance pool, saving all who contribute to flood insurance from those high cost claims. Removing structures permanently is the only way to guarantee no future losses. Removing the structure also prevents the continual cycle of properties being damaged and repaired, sold to uninformed buyers, and then damaged again.