Westside homes that often flood will be torn down

Jacksonville officials agree to use FEMA money to demolish 15 homes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The mayor's office on Monday gave the go-ahead to use money from Federal Emergency Management Agency to buy up and demolish 15 homes on Jacksonville's Westside that regularly are damaged by flooding.

The affected homes on Bakersfield Road have received thousands of dollars in insurance settlements every time Wills Branch Creek overflows its banks, and federal officials say it's smarter and safer to destroy the homes than to keep fixing them.

Barbara Murray, who designed and built her home in 1971, said leaving will be traumatic.

"I eventually did talk to FEMA and decided to go ahead with the move," Murray told Channel 4's Jim Piggott. "I am just tired of carrying things up and down stairs to keep things out of the water."

Murray and her neighbors are each getting $233,000 for their homes and land. The homes will be destroyed and property left vacant.

Emergency management officials say this is the best solution to the flooding problem.

"It's important because it's a 100 percent solution," said Laura D'Alisara. "Water washes in and water washes out. There is no structure left to be destroyed. You have to remember that in 1998, the fire department was pulling people out of that neighborhood by boat."

"I can't see anyone wanting to buy it knowing that the situation is still there," Murray said. "It really has not been corrected."

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