Deadline extended for USDA flooding program for West Haven properties

Floodwaters rise at Morse Avenue and Blohm Street along Old Field Creek during Superstorm Sandy.

Residential property owners whose properties off Beach Street were damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy have a little more time to apply for a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that will buy their properties at pre-flood prices.

The USDA Emergency Watershed Protection Program has extended the deadline to apply for its Emergency Watershed Protection - Floodplain Easement program until Nov. 26, city officials said Monday.

The deadline previously was Oct. 9, said city grants writer Eileen Krugel.

The program, managed by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, buys permanent land rights to properties in order to mitigate the effects of future storms, Krugel said in a news release.

Participation in the program is entirely voluntary, the release said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency and Sandy Surge flood maps show that some properties in the neighborhoods off Beach Street, including along Old Field Creek, may have been flooded during either Irene or Sandy, or both.

Some landowners in those areas may be eligible to enroll in the program, Krugel said.

But Krugel emphasized that the program is for any city property that has experienced chronic flooding, not just for properties located off Beach Street.

“It’s anyone who really has chronic flooding,” Krugel said. “If you’re on the West Shore” or in Allingtown “and you’ve had problem in the past, by all means apply.”

So far, the city had 13 properties accepted for the program in the first round and another 8 in the second round, of which one acquisition still needs to be completed, Krugel said.

Eligible landowners will be paid a one-time purchase price fee, based on neighborhood historic comparable sales as of Oct. 29, 2012, according to the release.

The program’s “sponsor” — in this case, the city — will pay the “fee simple” and become the property owner, the release said.

Once the property is purchased, all on-site structures will be demolished and removed, restoring the area to its natural condition, the release said.

To apply for the program, contact Krugel at 203-937-3620, ext. 3010, or ekrugel@westhaven-ct.gov. Applications must be postmarked or received by Nov. 26 at City Hall, 355 Main St., West Haven 06516.

Those with questions can contact program coordinator Kristin Walker at 860-871-4033 or kristin.walker@ct.usda.gov. They can also contact State Conservation Engineer Arthur Ramthun at 860-871-4030 or arthur.ramthun@ct.usda.gov.