VERMILION PARISH, La. (KLFY) — The state of Louisiana is offering to buy out an entire Vermillion Parish community to reduce the risk of flooding. $10M in federal funding is allocated toward buying property in the Victoria Acres community North of Abbeville. Many of the residents are eager to participate in the voluntary buyout and relocate to a safer place.

“I would rather relocate. Simple as that,” stated Lionel Willis who’s rented on Victoria drive for 11 years.

Willis compared Victoria Drive to a crawfish pond with elevated edges so that water can be pumped out of the community. Like most people on the street, he has had to replace everything due to an unforeseen flood.

“We was displaced. I was at my mom’s in Abbeville for at least about two and a half months before we was able to come back here to see what was going on with the house,” Willis remembered.

Four feet of floodwaters covered homes in 2016. A decade prior, the community took another devastating hit. Through federal dollars and the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, the state is funding a voluntary buyout of property based on appraised market value. 31 lots are given first priority with another 17 possibly to follow.

“Nobody wants to be doing the same thing every time it floods,” lamented homeowner Cynthia Pradia. She also plans to apply for the buyout and use the incentives to move onto higher ground.

Landlords and homeowners have until January 5 to apply, and tenants will be eligible for benefits under the Uniform Relocation Act.

As a tenant, Willis is not hesitating to take every opportunity to relocate. “Cause I can’t go through it again,” He said. “It’s just too much. Too much.”

Six other places in the state have been identified for the same program, including one in Scott, but a map has not been drawn out yet. The state, in collaboration with Vermilion Parish officials, designated these priority zones using flood maps and modeling data.

“We are working closely with the Louisiana Watershed Initiative team to bring relief to our neighbors in Victoria Acres who have endured multiple floods,” Dane Hebert, Vermilion Parish Police Jury president, said. “We encourage residents to take advantage of this opportunity to move to higher and drier ground, which will ultimately enhance our communitywide resilience to floods in the future.”

The $10 million buyout program in Victoria Acres, funded by federal mitigation dollars, is part of the Louisiana Watershed Initiative’s efforts to reduce flood risks statewide. By offering buyouts, the program helps residents relocate to safer areas and returns flood-prone properties to their natural states. Under LWI, the state awarded federal funds for buyouts in seven areas throughout Louisiana.

Pulled from Louisiana Watershed Initiative website

For more information, Victoria Acres property owners and residents can contact a buyout program representative at 866-735-2001 or email watershed@la.gov. For more information about the LWI Statewide Buyout Program, click here.

About the Louisiana Watershed Initiative
Gov. John Bel Edwards established the Council on Watershed Management in 2018, which serves as the coordinated, interagency organization at the state level for watershed-based flood risk reduction. The Louisiana Watershed Initiative serves as the Council’s programmatic arm under which all related efforts operate.