Des Moines spends $10.5M to buy 78 flood-damaged homes

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Des Moines has spent about $10.5 million to buy 78 homes damaged by June's flash flooding, and officials hope the move will prevent future flooding issues.

Four Mile Creek is over its banks and causing flooding around the east side of Des Moines on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (KCCI-TV)

Most of the residences are situated along Fourmile Creek in northeast Des Moines, the area hardest hit, The Des Moines Register reported. Demolition began this week.

Gov. Kim Reynolds in June issued a disaster proclamation for Buena Vista, Cherokee and Webster counties in response to flooding and severe weather. More than 1,900 homes took on water during the storms, according to Des Moines officials.

City officials have said buying the most flood-prone properties and demolishing the homes reduces the chances of more damage or resident injuries in the future.

"It's horrible that it happened, but our weather is changing, so I think we did the right thing by buying everybody out," said Councilwoman Linda Westergaard.

The average purchase price of the 78 homes was more than $136,000. The city offers were up to 110 percent of the homes' assessed values. The city used money generated from stormwater utility fees rather than relying on state or federal sources, which can slow the process.

Michael Christl, 42, was one of the residents that took the buyout. He said the $166,000 he received for his Drake neighborhood property was a "huge blessing," though he said it will be difficult to walk away from the home he's lived in for nearly two decades.

Kading Properties, a management company that leases homes, sold two properties for $147,000 each. The two duplexes saw about 3 feet of flooding this summer, CEO Carie Kading said.

"Obviously, we don't want to continue to own property in an area that's going to flood," she said.

Kading said the company will reinvest the money in other properties.