Homes to be Raised, but it’s Uncertain who will Pay the Bill

June 20, 2019

BELLEVUE, Neb. — A suburb of Omaha has condemned 195 flood-damaged homes, but it’s unclear who will be paying the expected bill of more than $1 million to raze them.

The Bellevue City Council decided Tuesday that the mobile and modular homes at the Paradise Lakes development were uninhabitable and will be demolished in early August. Missouri River floodwaters reached the homes’ rooftops after two nearby levees that also protected Offutt Air Force Base were overwhelmed.

People who owned their homes but rented the spaces underneath could face bills reaching into the thousands of dollars.

“I can’t afford to shell out that much money,” said Doug Muse after the council’s hearing on the matter, echoing the sentiment of many of the residents who attended. He said he’s been living with his father since the March disaster.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that the landowner, Howard Helm, has told the city that he can’t cover the costs for razing the homes he rented out at Paradise Lakes, and the community isn’t eligible for federal money to help with demolition.

His renters have expressed frustration about his lack of cooperation, leading several to contact Legal Aid of Nebraska about recouping unused rent and security deposits. Helm didn’t immediately reply to a message left Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Jim Ristow, Bellevue’s city administrator, said it is possible that a lien will be placed on Helm’s land. But liens also could be placed against people who owned their homes, placing the financial burden on them.

People who have loans on their homes should talk to lawyers and their lenders to determine how to proceed, he said.

A final decision on liens hasn’t been made.

Information from the Omaha World-Herald.

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