The vacant lot in the photo above used to be the site of a single-family house in the Annandale area.
The house, at 6613 Dearborn Drive, was torn down earlier this spring after it was purchased by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for $705,000, using federal FEMA funds. This was the first time the county participated in this kind of arrangement, says Craig Carinci, director of the stormwater planning division in the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.
A section of Holmes Run flows by the backyard, and the property had flooded frequently. After taking down the house, the county is in the process of restoring the land. Removal of impervious surfaces will improve the drainage, Carinci says, so less runoff will flow directly into the creek. The county plans to carry out more reforestation later this summer.
According to Carinci, the homeowner had applied for and received an $833,000 Repetitive Flood Claims Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to cover the sale and demolition of the house and compensate the owner for the loss.
The county signed a grant agreement with FEMA in August 2011. The federal and state governments covered 95 percent of the costs, and Fairfax County covered 5 percent. After receiving a “fair market rate for their home,” the former residents moved to California, Carinci said.
Other homeowners can apply for a FEMA grant if they meet the criteria: They must have had repetitive flooding, have flood insurance, and have filed two claims for flood insurance. The house at 6613 Dearborn had flooded in 2006 and 2008 and again last September during tropical storm Lee, he says.
It’s not clear what the future holds for the other homeowners on Dearborn close to Holmes Run, considering they are on a floodplain, too. Basil Hall Sr., who has lived at 6615 Dearborn since 1976, says he has had some minor flooding over the years.
Removing the house at 6613 Dearborn will help reduce runoff but “won’t dramatically change the hydrology of the creek,” Carinci says. And “it won’t significantly impact neighboring houses.”