EVANS — Vernon Parish residents hit by the flooding could get a buyout for the homes that were hit by last year's floods.

EVANS — Vernon Parish residents hit by the flooding could get a buyout for the homes that were hit by last year’s floods.

About 50 people came out Wednesday night to Evans High School hear about a plan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay people to move out. The money will come from FEMA and the Governor’s Office for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said Greg J. Wobbe of MPTX, a hazard mitigation company assisting with the project.

If people sign up, they will be paid the fair market value of the home and the land — specifically, what the property was worth before the flooding hit, he said.

The program is voluntary.

“There is no commitment from any of you to proceed with the sale of the property. You can sign up on the application, and then choose not to follow through,” Wobbe said.

The deadline to sign up is Feb. 3. After that, there are several times when homeowners can get more information on how much money they’ll get, and then based on that information, decide not to continue, he said.

The entire process will take about two years, he said.

Some properties have more priority than others. A primary home has a higher priority than a vacation home, Wobbe said.

Once the sale goes through, the land becomes the property of Vernon Parish. The home will be torn down, and the parish cannot build a permanent structure on the land, he said.

The parish can use that land for recreational purposes. Any structure build on that land can have a roof, but cannot have walls, like a picnic shelter, Wobbe said.

Although the parish is the one buying the land, the actual money won’t come from parish coffers. FEMA will provide the money, he said.

David Fox, Vernon Parish police juror for District 3, said this was about being safe. In case there’s another flood, fewer homeowners will be endangered. Also, emergency crews won’t be put in danger rescuing homeowners.

“We’re going to go with what’s fair. Whoever’s closest to the river, we’re going to start moving them out. Whoever’s most likely to be in an endangered situation, we’re going to move them out,” he said.

Speaking after the meeting, Fox said the program has a lot of benefits for people already interested in selling. He noted that people will get the full value of the property through this program. Selling through a real estate agent means the agent gets a cut of the sale, he said.

“The closing costs are covered. There is no Realtor fee. So if an individual it thinking of selling, now would be the prime time to do it. Because they would be getting 100 percent of the money,” he said. “And if they’re tired of getting flooded, it’s a chance to get that 100 percent and move somewhere else in the neighborhood.”

For people who want to stay, they can. In his case, his house had never flooded before, and sustained only minimal damage from the flood. He’s staying.

Angela Bulhof, case manager for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, noted that the deadline for applying is only a few weeks away, but the application does not tie homeowners down or commit them.

“It seems clear that Vernon Parish has wanted make any possible way for folks to recover; they want to have at their disposal,” she said. “To have one more opportunity to consider, which is to sell their home through the process.”

For information, call MPTX at (318) 238-6811.