OAK HILL — A packed house speaks louder than words in expressing interest. Mike Shumate, a board member on the Dunloup Creek Watershed Association, described Thursday’s meeting at the National Guard Armory in Glen Jean as nothing short of tickling.
“I’m tickled to death. I just kept seeing more and more cars coming up to the armory before the meeting,” Shumate exulted as he spoke of just under 200 people who packed the facility to hear about potential flood solutions for the Dunloup Creek watershed.
“Folks got to hear for the first time the initial discussions of this voluntary home buyout program being put together. The program will probably be completed by this summer, along with the parameters of how it will be managed, so that everyone will understand how it works.”
Shumate emphasized the program comes under the auspices of the Natural Resource and Conservation Service, a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is not, he said, a Federal Emergency Management Agency buyout, nor is it affiliated with the state Office of Emergency Services.
“This is a brand new program. Those who are interested will have to apply once all of the parameters are built into the program. This has nothing to do with any prior applications you may have filled out. Everyone has to understand that, from this day forward, this is an NRCS/USDA program.”
Understanding that a move from one dwelling place to another is easier said than done for some — particularly the elderly — Shumate said DCWA hopes to acquire funding for movers to come in and transport some of the older participants in the program or pay for their relocation costs if they have a mobile home.
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NRCS economist Pamela Yost made her presentation on Understanding the Buyout Options at Thursday’s meeting. She was overwhelmed with more questions than she could exchange for answers.
Shumate said it only indicates the fledgling steps the idea has taken. All who were left with unresolved questions at the meeting, he said, will be supplied with answers in the future.
“We also hope to form a committee that will provide feedback to NRCS before the summer, and we want to involve as many people on this as possible. In particular, we would like to have someone from the county — such as a county commissioner or an elected official from the Southern Conservation District Board — on there.”
He hopes to have the committee formed and in place before DCWA’s next meeting on March 20. At that time, NRCS will return for a second presentation on how it is building the buyout program. The key, Shumate said, is to keep people informed and abreast of what is taking place.
“We will constantly keep people advised. This was a good first step in gathering everyone to hear about this program. It’s voluntary, it’s evolving, and we will keep everyone informed by these monthly meetings and our quarterly newsletter.”
The Dunloup Creek watershed encompasses an estimated 190 homeowners in the areas of Glen Jean, Harvey, Kilsyth, Mount Hope and Red Star. DCWA is also eying Carlisle, Scarbro and Whipple for future incorporation into the group.