Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Barbara Holly (right) and Kimberly Lyell survey the progress of Holly's home after a January 2012 flood caused significant damage to the first floor of the house.
October 08, 2013
POLK COUNTY -- As she has done at least twice a week for the past year-and-a-half, Barbara Holly drove from Corvallis to see her 101-year-old home on the banks of the Little Luckiamute River.
Holly's home flooded in January 2012, when three days of monsoon-like rain caused the nearby river to rise to levels not seen in decades.
When the river crested, the first floor had 6 inches of standing water.
"It was pretty quick. It floods out there all the time," Holly said. "That was the first time it had come in the house."
What took only three days to create has taken more than a year-and-a-half to fix, and the work still isn't complete.
Holly waded through almost 20 months of paperwork and red tape to finally secure a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Funding finally came through in the middle of August and the house has been awash in activity since.
The first step was to raise the house off its foundation to pour a new one -- the original foundation was roughly 10 inches off the ground, the house now sits around 6 feet higher.
"The process just dragged for 20 months and then just shot up," Holly said. "By that time it was very exciting. We had some friends come out and watch -- it was a party."
To even begin the necessary steps of securing any kind of funding, Holly first had to get the county to rezone the property into the Little Luckiamute floodplain.
Somehow, Holly's 20-acre property, which has been flooded several times, all without major damage, remained out of the flood plain, according to county maps.
"Whoever originally made those maps put that little hole in the elevation that said here's a spot that doesn't get flooded," Kimberly Lyell, residential rehabilitation loan specialist with the Polk Community Development Corporation, said. "My guess is that it ... when I look at the map I have, you can't tell exactly where Barbara's house is."
Because of limited resources and staffing at the county level, Polk CDC acted as an intermediary for Holly during the grant process.
To receive the grant, Holly first had to use her own capital, which was provided by a low-interest loan from Polk CDC.
Lyell worked tirelessly with Holly to navigate the grant process to get construction initiated.
"We do all the paperwork and service the loans," Lyell said. "There's a lot of paperwork and a lot of time when it's one individual, the municipalities just do not have the resources for it."
Holly received some housing assistance from FEMA while she's been staying with a friend in Corvallis since the flood.
Now that the house is on its new foundation, work on the interior can begin.
It's been a long and arduous 21 months for Holly and the prospect of finally going home is becoming more of a reality every day.
"It's going to be kind of interesting to move back out there. I'm really looking forward to it," Holly said. "Downtown Corvallis is vastly different from being out in the country. It's way noisier."