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Appraisal reports almost complete for Gonzales federal buyout project

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GONZALES - The federal government could soon give an offer on 40 flood-prone homes in Ascension Parish. The appraisal process on E. Silverleaf Street is nearly complete. There’s only 10 more appraisal reports left. Many say they're ready to leave their homes behind.

“I've been fighting this water deal for thirty years and I'm tired of it,” said Joe West.

West moved to his home 30 years ago. Since then, it's flooded four times.

“I keep thinking what am I going to do, what can I do?"

The neighborhood has a drainage problem. For months the federal government has been in the process of buying out all of the homes to restore the street to wetlands. With the process moving along, many are starting to wonder how much money they're going to get, and if it will be enough.

“I hope it’s on the higher side, but you never know,” said West.

West said he'd like to be offered around $175,000.

“That way I would be able to go,” he said.

West bought his house for just under $70,000. He still has a small mortgage and spent $20,000 on flood repair. Home values have gone up since. Two houses sold for just under $130,000 in 2006. Another one sold for $137,000 a year later, in 2007, according to the website Zillow.

“You won't know [what you get] till they let you know what they're going to give you,” said West.

For dozens, it’s a waiting game. It won't be until all the appraisal reports are done, which could take one to two months, until the homeowners find out how much of an offer they're going to get. They'll have 30 days to accept or deny the appraisal offer. However, in order for the project to move forward after that, the city engineer says all owners have to accept the their offer. Then the United States Department of Agriculture would buy the houses. Some owners have also been connected with Restore Louisiana for additional assistance.

For many, this is their only hope for moving to higher ground.

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