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One landowner holds up federal buyout grant in Ascension Parish

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GONZALES - The City of Gonzales is one step closer to helping 40 homeowners that deal with constant flooding, move to higher ground. A partnership with Ascension Parish is moving a federal buyout along Silverleaf Street that has been in discussion for close to a year. But the water problem has not dried up yet.

The chief engineer for the city told WBRZ one lot on the street is causing issues, and could disqualify other homeowners from receiving the United States Department of Agriculture buyout program. A program many would like to be apart of.

"It's a good place to live, it's a quiet dead end street, and that’s why I love it so much,” said Joe West, who has lived on Silverleaf Street for 30 years. “But I've had water in my house three times.”

Ever since moving in, West has had to take it upon himself to keep his house dry from backwater when it rains.

"We can get 6 inches of hard rain within a matter of hours, and I have to sandbag to keep it away from my house and run pumps to keep it away from my house,” explained West.

The City of Gonzales is helping the homeowners fill out applications for a federal buyout. But the latest hold up is an empty lot. The owner has not been paying property taxes to the city or parish, and hasn't been reached to fill out an application. Without that every house to the east of the lot would be disqualified from the program. So the city is taking steps to claim the lot themselves by changing the law.

"Step one was a cooperative endeavor with Ascension Parish. Step two is an ordinance that the city would like to claim ownership,” said Chief Engineer Jackie Baumann. "We are committed to help them and not give up even though it is a long process and it does take a lot of work."

Once approved houses on this street are one step closer form being demolished, and homeowners moved to higher ground.

“It’s just a battle that I'm getting tired of,” said West.

The City of Gonzales does not have a timeline as to when they'll get the title for the vacant lot. So far more than half of the homeowner applications have been approved by the USDA.

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