Technical Assistance (Buyouts & Elevations)

Elevations, Relocations & Buyouts

Owners of flood-prone homes may seek technical assistance from surface water management to obtain cost-effective, long-term relief from continued flood damages.


The most common approaches for eliminating future flood damages in at-risk homes are:

  • Elevating the home, which can provide a solution for structures that can be raised so that the first habitable floor is above the base flood elevation (BFE).
  • Relocating the home on the same, or another, property, which can provide a solution for certain structures in sound condition where a suitable, less risky location is available.


For properties situated in areas where the river is encroaching, elevation, or relocation of the home onto a different area of the property may not be possible, or may not prevent future danger and damage.

Property acquisition, a permanent action also known as a "buyout," can provide an opportunity for people who live in high-hazard areas to move to safer ground. In an acquisition project, the county buys the property from a willing landowner. The property is then cleared, and used for flood-resistant activities (such as parks, wildlife refuge, or open space) in perpetuity.

Financial Assistance

To reduce future disaster claims, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains programs that provide funding to state and local governments for eligible mitigation (corrective) activities. Qualified activities include home elevations, home relocations, and the acquisition and removal of structures in high-risk areas.

On behalf of a property owner proposing a cost-effective mitigation activity, the county applies for grant funding to the State of Washington, Department of Emergency Management, which administers the program for FEMA.

Individuals may not apply directly to the State or FEMA for this funding, but Snohomish County can sponsor an application on their behalf.

Grant funding is awarded on a competitive basis. If a county-sponsored application is accepted for funding, the homeowner works with the Planning and Development Services Department on permit-related issues, and continues to work with surface water management staff to receive grant funds at key intervals throughout the project.