Loudoun Co. could buy 14 homes in flood-prone Selma Estates development

An independent watershed analysis determined 14 homes in the Selma Estates development between Leesburg and Lucketts faced severe flood risks. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Loudoun County, Virginia, will consider buying more than a dozen recently built homes in the Selma Estates development after new information revealed they could sustain serious flood damage during an extreme rainfall event.

An independent watershed analysis determined 14 homes in the development — located off Va. 15 between Leesburg and Lucketts — would be under a significant flood threat during a hypothetical 100-year storm, with some facing risks from a less severe 10-year event.

On Tuesday, Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors will discuss moving forward with buying the at-risk property. According to a staff briefing, “Implementing a buyout program is the most viable flood mitigation option because it removes all risk of structuring flooding during a 100-year storm event.”

Between 2013 and 2018, significant flooding events were experienced by residents on Farnsborough Place, Osterly Lane, Trongate Court, Berkhamstead Place and Saxon Shore Drive. Storm runoff poured through windows and doors, and into the basements of homes.

The independent analysis took several potential flood mitigation options into consideration, including building a levee, increasing the capacity of stormwater pipes, or building a new stormwater management pond.

Earlier this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency enlarged the area’s floodplain boundaries. Homes within the floodplain have to comply with mandatory flood insurance provisions of the National Flood Insurance Program.

In examining other options, the consultant, Wood PLC, determined that while a berm could deflect stormwaters from the at-risk homes, it would cause higher risk in areas not currently located within the floodplain.

Increasing current stormwater infrastructure would slightly reduce flood levels, but would be limited by locations of homes and limits of pipe sizes.

Building a stormwater management pond would pose risk to the area’s karst topography and construction costs were estimated at $11.1 million.

According to the Board of Supervisors staff, the Selma Estates area may be eligible for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program or Flood Mitigation Assistance programs, which provide federal funds. FEMA pays up to 75% for hazard mitigation programs, with counties or states picking up the rest.

Preliminary estimates by staff show implementation of the buyout program could cost up to $12 million, including the cost of purchasing affected homes, demolition and relocation costs.

Development of Selma Estates began in 2003 and now consists of 277 lots.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the correct date of the meeting and to indicate this supervisors are considering this as a proposal.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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