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Repeat flood victim bought out by state for interstate project, relieved to move on

BATON ROUGE - The state has started buying up properties for the I-10 expansion project in Baton Rouge. One man, who has been interviewed by 2 On Your Side before, says he recently received his buyout payment and he's very relieved.

Robby Huey got his check a few days ago and he's already looking for a new home - one that's out of a flood zone and away from the interstate project.

For 28 years, Huey has called his house on Honeysuckle Avenue home. Those years have brought good days and plenty of bad. He's lost track of how many times he's flooded but says it's between eight and 10. Another 15-20 storms have been close calls.

In May, 2 On Your Side visited Huey the last time he flooded. Then, he had stacked up his furniture on milk crates. It's something he has gotten used to doing.

"It's like a drill you have to go through every time there's a threat of rain," Huey said.

The future is about to get a lot drier for Huey. He's saying goodbye to his neighborhood and moving on. The State Department of Transportation and Development bought him out.

"The offer was good, better than I expected," he said.

DOTD wants the property for the interstate expansion project, and as Huey understands it, the state is buying up other properties in the area. So far, DOTD says it's acquired four properties for the project. It won't know the exact number of properties it needs until the final right-of-way maps are completed.

The look of Honeysuckle Avenue is changing. Properties are being elevated, bought, and torn down through various avenues. Homeowners there have been plagued with flooding issues for a long time. Dawson Creek, which runs along Acadian Thruway and parallel to Honeysuckle Avenue, swells with water during rain events. That water often flows down Huey's street.

Earlier this year, one man took it upon himself to clean out Dawson Creek by removing about 100 trees.

The people who are getting help with their homes are relieved.

"Finally I can get some peace of mind and sleep at night and not wake up for being alarmed whenever I see a bad weather report," Huey said.

Huey has waited a long time for that peace of mind. He first heard the state was planning to buy properties three and a half years ago.

"It's been a godsend, because it was worth waiting on, it really was," he said.

He plans to take the money and find a place that's out of harm's way. He has three months to move out.

While DOTD is still working on acquiring properties, earlier this year the city-parish said 66 homes will either be elevated or acquired in the parish through various grants.

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