Prairie Township hopes to use federal grant money to buy and demolish up to eight homes in a Galloway subdivision that floods repeatedly.

Township trustees Nov. 20 unanimously approved applying for a hazard mitigation grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to buy the properties in the O'Harra Estates subdivision.

About three dozen houses on Tamara Avenue, El Nora Drive and some abutting property on Alton Road have been subject to flood problems dating back decades. The grant application includes one home on Alton Road, two on El Nora Drive and five on Tamara Avenue.

"This program would cost up to $1.63 million if all houses are approved -- just over $1.2 million would come from FEMA," said Tracy Hatmaker, then-Prairie Township administrator.

He has since retired; his last day on the job was Nov. 30.

The state of Ohio is contributing half of the 25 percent of funding that would be needed by communities that receive grants to pay for mitigation projects, he said. Another 12.5 percent would come from county and township funding, as well as "in-kind" services.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency will administer any grants awarded. The state doesn't know how much money, if any, it will receive.

Hatmaker said the applications are due by Dec. 3 and are expected to be scored by federal officials in mid-January.

Funds became available in April after President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration acknowledging damage in dozens of counties from flooding, straight-line winds, heavy rains and mudslides that plagued the state between Feb. 14 and 25.

Homeowners and township representatives met with officials from the Ohio EMA in September.

Participation in the program is voluntary.

If the township is awarded grant funds, an independent appraiser will set a fair market value for the homes.

They will be torn down and the land will be deed-restricted, requiring it to be kept as open or conservation space, officials said.

If the grant is awarded, it's expected to take about three years to complete the appraisals, purchases and demolition of the homes.

The township has been told the flooding is likely the result of backups from Clover Gross Run to the north and from water flowing across farm fields to the south and east, Hatmaker said.

In related business, trustees also approved spending $15,500 for a study to evaluate the problem.

Stantec Consulting will examine four possible ways to minimize flooding over Tamara Avenue, including the installation of a storm culvert or a retention basin. Other considerations the study will examine include raising Tamara Avenue or building a new road to the south of the development to connect Alton Road and Tamara Avenue.

Stantec expects to complete its evaluation by the end of December, Hatmaker said.

The next trustee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at township offices, 23 Maple Drive.

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