In 2016, the city of La Crosse established a Floodplain Relief Program
The program uses grants to help support the thousands of property owners who live in the floodplain in the city.
“We were kind of assuming that it would be helping people elevate their structures, but really it has been used for people building on new lots, or building on vacant lots I should say,” said City of La Crosse Environmental Planner Lewis Kuhlman.
Kuhlman, who also serves as Floodplain Manager, says the program was not getting used by property owners often because the costs were higher than expected.
With the high water La Crosse experienced this spring, the city heard from people who said flooding in their basements was threatening the foundation of their house or building.
They wanted to know if anything could be done that wouldn’t break the bank.
“You’re giving up your basement either to water or to being filled in with sand or cement. But in order for the house to survive, it has to be done,” said Kuhlman.
Last week, the Floodplain Advisory Committee voted to add to the program
Under the proposed change, the city will pay 90% of up to $10,000 to have a basement filled.
“The intention is to help them keep their foundation, keep their house. The side effect is that it will bring people closer into compliance with floodplain regulations. They won’t be in complete compliance and they definitely won’t be removed from the floodplains. So they’ll still have to pay flood insurance,” said Kuhlman.
The change to the program still needs to be approved by the full city council.
Kuhlman says people who are interested in learning more about filling their basement can contact the city’s planning department for information.