Jacksonville finalizing plans for $5M buyout of flood-prone Ken Knight Drive homes

Homes would be demolished and turned into a natural buffer zone to absorb floodwaters

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A $5 million plan to buy out homes in one of Jacksonville’s most flood-prone areas is one step closure to becoming a reality.

During Hurricane Irma three years ago, heavy rains overflowed the Ribault River, which overflowed into many homes along Ken Knight Drive, located off Moncrief Road in Northwest Jacksonville. Residents said floodwaters brought snakes into homes and alligators floating down the street.

Some of those homes and apartments in the Ribault neighborhood are still left badly damaged from severe flooding. That’s why the city is proposing a buyout of those properties so they can be demolished and then the area can be turned into a green space, which will act as a buffer from the river.

“I stay by the river,” said Angela Bush, who lives on Ken Knight Drive. “When it rains, it floods the whole yard up. There ain’t no drains out here.”

Homeowners of 52 properties in the area have filed out participation forms. News4Jax was told that subrecipient agreement was completed Friday and submitted to the U.S. Department of Economic Opportunity.

The agreement states:

  • The $5 million would be used to benefit low- and moderate-income people.
  • The money would only be used in high-risk flood areas to reduce the impact of future disasters.
  • Assistance would be provided in form of a buyout and the home would be demolished.
  • Those first in line would be the homes that suffered the most damage.

It’s not known which homes will be accepted. Most who live in that area are renters, and many are skeptical that they would really get help.

“To me, it’s not worth it to try and sell it out for what they’re trying to buy it for,” said Aaron Sumart, who lives on Ken Knight Drive.

Those are questions the city is now getting ready to deal with as it continues to work on the buyout plan, which could take years to see results.

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