Freeport town hall faces hurdles over potential flood grant

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FREEPORT, Ill (WIFR) --- Standing room only at St. Paul missionary Baptist church in Freeport on Wednesday night as residents voiced their concerns over the city's plans to apply for a pre-disaster flood hazard mitigation grant.

Through the federal emergency management agency, this funding is designated for homes and businesses along the floodway of the Pecatonica River.

"It's a voluntary process, you don't have to sign up, and you don't have to participate. What we can do, if you sign up, we can negotiate for your property,"

This involves gathering interest in the grant from the community to gauge property value.

In November 2019, FEMA and the city will negotiate the terms of the grant's amount and if given, Freeport has up to three years to complete the project.

The more than 300 eligible properties include some homes and businesses of residents who have lived in the area for decades.

For longtime resident Henry Shipp, getting a new mortgage for a new home just isn't feasible.

"Anybody over here that has common sense, that loves their property, over 65 years old, first of all, you can't get a loan at 65, you can't go to a bank, and get any loan, so what are they talking about?" said Shipp.

For those right in the flood zone, facing the choice to sell their home doesn't give their pockets any relief.

"We put thousands and thousands of dollars into our house and no one is going to give that money back to us."