Drakes looks to demolish buildings

Published 6:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2020

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The Town of Drakes Branch is awaiting approval of a FEMA grant that will be used to demolish nine buildings along the town’s Main Street, making way for open green space.

According to Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) Deputy Director Todd Fortune, the $785,310.00 grant fund is through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), specifically related to damages from Tropical Storm Michael.

The FEMA application submitted by the Town of Drakes Branch states the funds would be used to acquire/demolish the Town Hall/Fire Department and seven other commercial buildings in the downtown area.

Drakes Branch Mayor Denise Pridgen declined to comment on which seven buildings the town is looking to demolish. Pridgen said that information would be disclosed if the FEMA grant is approved.

According to Fortune, the buildings in question are all located close to Twittys Creek and/or the tributary that runs behind the Town Hall/Fire Department.

“Due to their location in the flood plain, they are subject to periodic flooding and damage from that flooding.” Fortune said, “Any buildings that are demolished would be converted to open space, with the intent being to reduce the potential of property damage in the downtown area from future flood events.”

According to FEMA, hazard mitigation is any sustainable action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from future disasters.

“Mitigation planning breaks the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage,” FEMA officials said. “Hazard mitigation includes long-term solutions that reduce the impact of disasters in the future.”

The Town of Drakes Branch and many of the buildings in the downtown area, including the Town Hall/Firehouse and Post Office, received significant damages from floodwaters during Tropical Storm Michael in October 2018.

A new Town Hall/Firehouse is currently being constructed across the road from the current building out of the flood zone.

The Post Office is still open and in operation, yet many other buildings in the downtown area are vacant.