Winnebago County to Begin Land Buyback Programs

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The Winnebago County will begin making offers this month to buy the land from people in two high flood areas.

"When it floods, it's so hard to get in an out if you don't have a boat," said Blackhawk Island resident Alan Terrell.

Terrell said flood waters have been so high on Blackhawk Island he and his wife were once trapped in their neighborhood. Which is why the couple is ready to move out.

"We don't have any of the luxuries that they have uptown," said Terrell. "Like garbage service, fire department. They can't get down here, very fast. Just to get back into a regular, normal life would be great."

Winnebago County is offering to buy all the properties on Blackhawk Island in Rockford and along Edgemere Terrace near Roscoe with money received from a nearly four million dollar state grant. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency wants to move people away from the high flood prone areas, that's because FEMA will no longer foot the bill for flood damage.

"For the homeowners that are there, it's strictly voluntary," said Jim Hughes, Director Development Services in Winnebago County. "We can't force them out. But we have an option for them if they'd like to get bought out they will."

Though Alan Terrell says he wants to move off the island because of the flooding and the poor road conditions, he says he'll only accept a reasonable offer.

"If they don't make me an offer to where I can't replace this, I want something similar."

Similar but better able to handle a little rain.

Winnebago County Director of Development Jim Hughes said he expects to have all the land purchased on Blackhawk Island within two years. But, he said, it may take almost five years to convince those in Edgemere Terrace.

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