The city of Sherman may have found its sliver of good news stemming from the torrential rains and flooding that impacted the area over the last few months.

The city of Sherman may have found its sliver of good news stemming from the torrential rains and flooding that impacted the area over the last few months.


Due to the Presidential Disaster Declaration that includes Grayson County, the city of Sherman is now eligible for a program administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, wherein the federal government foot most of the bill to purchase dangerous properties in the floodplain, Sherman Director of Engineering Clay Barnett explained.


"We have identified 13 properties that have suffered either severe repetitive loss or repetitive loss — those properties that the federal government has continued to pay out flood claims on, and this project would allow us to acquire those properties," Barnett said. "Typically, it’s at a 75-25 split, where FEMA picks up 75 percent and the cities pick up 25 percent. However, due to the fact that we’ve been declared a Disaster Area, most of these properties can be picked up at a 90-10 split … and there are two of them that can be picked up at no cost to the city whatsoever."


The Sherman City Council set aside $134,852 in next year’s budget for the city’s portion of the purchase prices, greenlighting city staff to pursue the balance of the $1.3 million grant from FEMA. If successful in its application, the city will approach the 13 property owners and ask if they would be willing to sell for the current market price. The city then would demolish structures and retain ownership of the flood-prone lots.


The program is worth it to the federal government, Barnett said, because it removes troubled properties from insurance rolls.


"Most folks don’t know this, but almost all flood insurance in the United States is underwritten by the federal government, … so this is their effort to try and remove those properties from continuously having to pay out claims on them," Barnett said. "It’s really a great opportunity for (the owners) to get full value for their house (or business), when they probably wouldn’t get fair market value if they were trying to sell it to somebody else."


Clearing the floodplain is one of the city’s chief goals in its flood mitigation efforts, ranking third on Sherman’s list of priorities in its 2009 Comprehensive Master Plan, Barnett explained.


"Removing these properties from the floodplain opens up the creek and helps in more ways than just stopping the process of continued flood losses," Barnett said. "It also helps open up the drainage ways so that the water doesn’t back up somewhere else."


If the program comes to fruition as hoped, said city leaders, it will be an appreciated and unexpected benefit from the summer’s storms.


"It’s good to have an opportunity to address some of our issues that have been identified in past studies," Sherman Mayor Cary Wacker said. "A year ago when we were discussing this, it was hard to imagine a flooding scenario in Sherman. But how quickly things turned around."