Could your flooded home get bought out? In one North Texas city the answer is yes

Brooks Todd saw the rising water quickly transform his backyard into a raging river.

Within minutes, it rose from waist-high to 6-feet deep behind his west-central Arlington home.

Rushing flood waters turned Pantego Branch — a tributary to Rush Creek — into a raging river.

Blocked by debris in the main channel, the creek filled his backyard, knocking down a section of his fence and sending flood waters through his neighbor’s yard.

Todd was lucky. The flood waters didn’t inundate his house, though it did reach his garage and touched one room.

Two doors down, a home flooded .

“It came up so fast,” Todd said. “It was all over my backyard and it was moving so fast. Fifteen minutes later, it was back to normal. It was truly a flash flood.”

In a pocket of Arlington north of Pioneer Parkway and south of Interstate 30, 255 homes and businesses flooded along Rush and Johnson creeks, said Amy Cannon, Arlington’s interim assistant director over stormwater.

So Arlington is studying whether to buy out some properties.

“We’ve got eight we’ve taken a look at,” Cannon said. “We’re in the process of getting appraisals on four of those properties and identifying where it will fit in our budget.. Some will move forward. Some may not.”

Arlington has torn down more than 100 condo units and 300 homes since the Voluntary Flood Mitigation Program began in 1997.

Judging from flood gauges and rainfall reports, Arlington has estimated the Sept. 22 storm was a 100-year event. Cannon said about 1,900 have flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance program.

To buy out a home, the home or business owner first must be willing to sell.

But other factors also play a role in getting a home bought. Homes that have flooded previously usually go to the top of the list.

“We’ll look at others down the road as the requests come in,” Cannon said. “We’re still receiving requests. We’ll look at the severity of the flooding, how many times they have flooded. We’ll run that analysis on every single buyout request.”

Funds are limited.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state disaster declaration for Tarrant County that makes uninsured property owners whose homes flooded eligible for low-interest Small Businesses Administration disaster loans. Flooding has also occurred in Everman, Forest Hill and Fort Worth.

But there hasn’t been a presidential disaster declaration for Tarrant County, which would open up more funds for buyouts and other programs.

In Arlington, Cannon said the city is studying whether capital improvement projects can improve flooding in some parts of the city.

“We’ll be looking at all of the areas,” Cannon said. “The city will look to see if we can correct any of the issues and when they could be scheduled in our capital improvement program. We’ll be moving forward with our 2019 capital projects and looking at scheduling in 2020 and beyond.”

While Todd’s flooding issues weren’t severe enough to warrant buying out his home, he hopes the city can do more education to get residents to keep debris and trash out of stream beds.

“Debris is a huge part of it,” Todd said. “People just throwing their stuff in the creek. They don’t care and don’t realize the problem because they’re not on the lowest part of the creek. They don’t realize what can happen.”

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @ fwhanna
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