By Ray King

Jefferson County has received just over $1.4 million in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for damage homes in the county sustained during flooding on the Arkansas River in 2019.

The following is one of two stories dealing with those grants, which were approved by the Jefferson County Quorum Court during a meeting Monday.

The first of those grants was for $1,019,017.60 and Karen Blevins, the director of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management explained what that grant was for.

Six of the eight homes are located in the Island Harbor community, at 3103 Riviera Drive, 3109 Riviera Drive, 3202 Sheppard Island Drive, 3209 Holiday Drive and 3220 Holiday Drive. The seventh is located at 9108 Trulock Bay Road and the eighth at 13000 Acorn Drive which Blevins said is in Reydell.

She said all the homes are currently standing and the county is currently in the process of getting them appraised to come up with a fair market value that will be offered to the owner of the property. A condition of the grant is that the owner is responsible for 25 percent of the cost of demolition, but Blevins explained that they will not actually be out any money.

Jefferson County does not have a condemnation policy like the city of Pine Bluff does but Blevins said following the flood, the homes were inspected by FEMA that determined they were substandard.

She said the county has received another FEMA grant for more than $1 million which will cover the cost of an additional eight homes being demolished.

She said 10 to 15 home owners took advantage of that and the rest of the homes FEMA determined were substandard are either empty or the people living in them ignored the letters from FEMA and went about their business.”