Two years after Alexander County, Ill., applied for a federal grant to buy out about 135 flood-prone homes and businesses, appraisers have begun establishing what those structures were worth before the Mississippi River overflowed its banks and inundated them. In February, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a report estimating the total damage from the 2011 flood at $2.8 billion. The flood affected 119 counties in seven states, including Illinois and Missouri, damaging more than 21,000 homes and businesses and inundating 1.2 million acres of farmland. Alexander County applied for a buyout grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September 2011. FEMA approved the grant last spring. Household owners can’t opt out of the buyout, but those who agree cannot negotiate the price. The idea is to remove buildings that are likely to sustain repeated flood damage instead of spending money to repair or rebuild them over and over.
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