RIO LINDA, Calif. (KTXL) — In the winter months of 2021, flooding has not yet been an issue but many around Sacramento County who live in a flood plain are preparing for unexpected flows by physically lifting up their house.
“Well, this started back actually in 2017 when we had the floods here in Sacramento County,” Michael Steinbacher told FOX40.
Steinbacher said while his Walnut Grove house didn’t flood back then, he and his wife, Jill, wondered if there was more they could do to protect themselves since they were so close to the Sacramento River.
“We qualified for a flood mitigation grant program,” Steinbacher said.
That program allows Sacramento County residents who live on a flood plain to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to pay 75% of the cost to raise their homes. Homeowners must come up with the other 25%.
“In some areas of the county and in some circumstances, the county will also help with some of that,” said George Booth, Sacramento County Flood Plain Manager. “So, over the years, we’ve done about 120 of them.”
“That’s a great deal for homeowners,” said Mark Dew-Hiersoux of Dew-Hiersoux Construction.
Dew-Hiersoux’s construction company gets the homes off the ground and rebuilds the foundation underneath, sometimes adding a garage or storage space.
“We come in and do all the footings and dig all the footings and pour the concrete and stem walls,” he said. “Lower the house back down and do some minor or major remodels.”
The homeowners can’t go into their homes for about four months, but they don’t need to move everything out.
“I left my paintings up and everything else is still there,” Donna Emmerich told FOX40.
After 16 years of piling sandbags around her property to stop Dry Creek from flooding into her home, Emmerich is also getting her house raised.
She’s been trying to get her neighbors to do the same.
“Because I don’t want to be in the air watching everybody flood around me, so I knocked on their doors and I told them about the program,” she said.
Sacramento County said within the next year, between 40 to 80 homes could be moving up if the grants are accepted.
The county estimates as many as 1,000 homes could qualify for the program.
“And there’ll be another opportunity, even this year, for more grant applications,” Booth said.
Steinbacher said while it might be years before flood waters ever reach his property, he’s glad his home will be high and dry when they do.
“It puts our house up into the trees; we call it the Tree House Inspiration,” Steinbacher said.
In the long run, homeowners say this upgrade will save them money because the cost of their flood insurance will go way down once their homes are up high.