Flooding is presenting residents of Winslow, a village in Dodge County, with a painful question: Given the continuing vulnerability to flooding, should the community uproot itself and relocate to higher ground?
It’s a decision that only the residents themselves can make. Village leaders and outside agencies can help by providing them with full information. Government agencies also can help by working out the strongest arrangements possible.
It’s rare, but sometimes communities relocate in the face of ongoing flood threats. Niobrara, for example, has moved twice — first in 1881 and then again in the 1970s. The challenges of building a community anew at a new site are major, of course.
At some point Winslow residents will decide as a community whether to relocate their village. If there’s a consensus, those supporting the move can take a government buyout and relocate to a new Winslow on a better protected site in Dodge County. State or federal buyout programs pay residents 75 percent of the pre-flood value of their property.
FEMA-funded buyouts require that nothing is built there in the future.
Individuals still would have the option to stay, but people with heavily damaged properties likely would be required to elevate their home or business at a substantial cost. They also have the option to take a government buyout and move to a different community.
Residents understandably differ in their reactions. “Staying at our current location could put us back in harm’s way,” one resident said.
“If you’re offered $60,000 or $70,000 for your house for a buyout, you’d still have to get a mortgage for a modular,” said a resident who found that the cheapest available modular home costs $80,000.