Homes coming down along flood-prone Arlington creek

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on June 1, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 2 at 2:52 PM

ARLINGTON — This week — after months of debate — heavy equipment moved in along Arlington's stretch of Rush Creek.

City contractors will tear down more than 50 homes and a condominium complex in a $25 million bond program to get homeowners to move out of the flood plain.

The city will redevelop the vacant lots into park land, while making sure new homes aren't built near other potential flood areas.

Nine months ago, floodwaters inundated Arlington. Tropical Storm Hermine dumped near-record rainfall, putting homes and condos along Rush Creek underwater.

Fred Covy watched the flood waters came within a foot of his elevated foundation. "There were pickups the size of that one coming down and ended up on the side of my shed," he said.

The tropical storm spared his house, but cost him his neighbors.

"It does bother me losing my neighbor," Covy said. "He's been here since 1970, and such a nice person. I don't think I could ever have a neighbor that nice."

Just behind his back fence, heavy equipment started tearing down the houses of people who accepted the city's buyout offer.

It sounds likes a good deal for the homeowners, but Ron Venerable says no one is getting rich. "Everybody lost on this... everybody," he said.

Venerable lived in a condo at Willows at Shady Valley when Rush Creek came out of its banks. He said he got a "take it or leave it" offer to move out, but it wasn't enough to recoup his losses or pay for his relocation.

"We have a beautiful neighborhood that's gone now, and a lot of people took a massive loss," Venerable said. "I feel like no one was truly in our corner."

The city told News 8 everyone got a fair offer, and only four properties haven't settled.

Engineers are confident that anyone who stays behind might wish they had left with their neighbors when the next flood rolls through Rush Creek.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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