Plainville Gets $1.3 Million Grant To Complete Razing Homes In Floodplain

By:  Bill Leukhardt
Hartford Courant

PLAINVILLE — The town has received a new $1.3 million federal grant that will allow it to purchase and demolish nine homes in a neighborhood by the Pequabuck River that's prone to flooding.

The grant was announced Wednesday.

The nine homes are on Robert Street Extension and Norton Place Extension. The neighborhoods are in a floodplain and frequently flood during heavy rain. Thirteen homes have already been demolished and one more is likely to come down soon. Previous federal and state grants paid for the demolition.

Once the nine homes are gone, the neighborhood will only have two homes left standing, with a total of 23 demolished, Town Manager Robert Lee said Wednesday.

"Those two homeowners have declined to participate," he said. "It's a voluntary program."

The $1.3 million grant comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. U.S. Rep Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District and Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy issued a joined statement about the award.

"For too long, families along the Pequabuck River in Plainville have been forced to deal with the consequences of severe flooding," Murphy said. "I'm thrilled that homeowners will enjoy well-deserved relief and that the town of Plainville will now be able to transition these flood-prone properties into a safe, open space for all residents to enjoy."

The program will pay homeowners the pre-flooding value of their homes so they will have equity to buy other homes. Many of the homes that have already been demolished sustained severe damage in 2011 and 2012. The neighborhood was built 60 years ago prior to regulations that make it harder to build in floodplains.

The purchase and demolition project is part of a national drive to mitigate chronic flood damage by getting people to move from flood areas.

The Pequabuck River flows from Plymouth through Bristol and Plainville before it feeds into the Farmington River in Farmington. Water was halfway up the first floor of some homes after a storm in August 2011. Homes were fouled by oil- and sewage-tainted water and health officials ordered many residents not to return until the houses were cleaned and inspected.