Monett flood-prone area poised for FEMA buyout

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MONETT, Mo. The rain can't be stopped, floods usually can't be held back, but the landscape can change, and that's the hope the city of Monett holds.

Over the years, the city has applied three times for a federal buyout of a swath of land that's part of a 100-year floodplain along Kelly Creek. The fourth attempt is poised to go through.

"The properties that we're talking about have been repetitive losses, or we've had to respond numerous times down there to evacuate," explained the Monett and Lawrence Emergency Management director Bonnie Witt-Schulte.

An agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency calls for buying out four properties on Front Street, just south of Broadway.

Those locations include the city's public works building that will relocate, the closed Monett Agri-Center, an old VFW Hall that's no longer open for business, and a trailer park where all but a handful of renters have left.

The government is offering fair market value for all the properties, which totals $312,000 of which the city will have to pay $76,000.

The city contacted the property owners before submitting the grant, and all were board at that time, according to Schulte who added that they're likely still interested.

"Those businesses down there and those property owners down there that see that repetitive loss and are constantly having to clean up every time it floods down there, they see this a benefit too," she said.

If the deal goes through as planned, the entire area will be transformed into a green space. A pavilion, which is being built to withstand flooding, is already under construction and will host concerts and a farmer's market.

The city will submit the next set of documents to FEMA in March, and the rest of the project should proceed quickly, according to Schulte.