BULL CREEK, Mo. – Could a buyout be on the horizon for dozens of Bull Creek residents who were impacted by flooding?
The small Taney County community, located just north of Branson, has been hit hard by high water multiple times over the years.
The latest round back in May may have been the worst. The water stretched out hundreds of yards from the banks of Bull Creek, up through the mobile home park and out to shoulder of F Highway.
“We can’t rebuild,” said Bull Creek resident, Robert Ferg, when KOLR 10 spoke with him in May. “It’s in the walls. It got into everything. You walk through [the house] and you can smell it really bad.”
When KOLR 10 went back by Ferg’s residence on Wednesday, no one was home and a “for sale” sign was on the door.
Out of the 62 mobile homes with flood damage – the park has a total of 70 – only a handful still have people living inside them.
“We’re having to make some calls and trying to catch people here and there,” says Bull Creek director of public works, James Felton. “You catch people coming down to their property, or getting stuff out of it, or working on it.”
Felton is trying to make contact with affected residents because the village plans on filing a “notice of intent” with the government by the end of the week. While the NOI isn’t a final document, it will get the ball rolling on the buyout process.
“It’s hard for [residents] when they lose everything, to just pack up and go buy a new house,” Felton says. “I couldn’t do it. You couldn’t do it. I don’t think the average person could.”
Wednesday, FEMA was training Felton and his staff on how to estimate the extent of damage to homes, a process that could aid in potential buyouts down the road.
If a home is more than 50% damaged it is considered “substantial damage.”
While Felton doesn’t have exact figures yet, he is willing to estimate at least 80-percent of those impacted would be willing to take the voluntary buyout.
While a buyout is a lengthy process, if approved, the bill on homes would be a 75-25 split. 75% of the funds would come from the federal government with a local municipality picking up the rest.
“We’d need to put [damage estimate] numbers together and see if it’s something the village can financially do,” Felton says. “If we can’t cover that 25 [percent], we may have to go through a grant program.”
Felton knows the village would also take a hit from a revenue standpoint if it loses that many residents, but he knows for many of them, the last round was the last straw.
“If FEMA comes through,” said Ferg in May, “their best bet is to get them all and destroy them all.”
Felton is encouraging those impact by the floods, or those that still have questions, to visit or call the temporary village office set up behind the gas station in Bull Creek.