Arnold and Cora Cockrell once lived on Murden Street, in a hollow behind Central Middle School. And in recent years, they dealt with quite a few floods.

Those days now are behind them.

The Cockrells are one of six families whose flood-prone homes were purchased through the City of Kokomo’s Flood Mitigation Program. With $430,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, $100,000 from the Kokomo Urban Enterprise Association and $43,000 from its portion of federal block grant funding, the city hopes to purchase and raze as many as eight more homes this year.

And the city will remove more homes from low-lying areas in the coming years – if FEMA comes through with more money for this important program.

The city tore down 11 homes between 1999 and 2000 before the FEMA funding dried up. Without the $430,000 outlay this year, folks like the Cockrells would still be on a very long waiting list.

Community specialist Debbie Cook, who oversees the Flood Mitigation Program, estimates it would cost more than $6.8 million to raze the 151 homes and rental properties that have sustained repeated flood damage over the years. And without more federal assistance, these homes likely will sustain even more flooding, costing taxpayers money.

“We’ve made some major improvements to some people’s lives,” Cook said of the city program. “It’s going to turn those lots into greenspace, and it will save money at the federal and local level for recovery and flood insurance.”

Along Carter and Murden streets behind Central Middle School – in Arnold and Cora Cockrell’s old neighborhood – homes have been flooded no fewer than five times in the past seven years. FEMA recorded water 6 feet deep in some homes after the July 4 flood of 2003.

The city’s Flood Mitigation Program obviously needs more FEMA funding. And the federal government needs to provide it.

Otherwise, city and federal governments will continue to be soaked for recovery costs and flood insurance payouts.

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