HEARTLAND FLOOD: Troubles not over for Paradise Lakes residents as owner can't afford to demolish homes

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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - City inspectors won't allow residents to move back into their Paradise Lakes homes, and the property owner can't pay to have them removed.

Bellevue Police sent a letter to homeowners and renters of the flood-affected homes telling them they have 10 days to report back to the city on how they plan to dispose of their houses.

City officials said Green Acres Mobile Homes and others have it under control, but the owner at Paradise Lakes can't afford the demolition.

"He's been collecting all this money over the years... where'd the money go? He doesn't have any money all of a sudden?" Paradise Lakes resident Gene Faust asked.

Residents said owner Howard Helm hasn't been heard from since they were evacuated from the community in March.

"You're looking at almost two months now and there's still no answers," resident Brandy Cantell said.

Bellevue city administrator Jim Ristow said he is in contact with Helm.

He said that Helm can't afford to have all 195 homes on the property demolished.

Renters aren't sure what this means for their missing deposits and rent.

"That's pretty much our whole life right there, gone," Cantell said.

She sold her father's old home and moved to Paradise Lakes in February, only to see her new home destroyed a month later.

"One minute you're moving on, restarting life. The next minute there's nothing to look back to," Cantell said.

She paid Howard Helm six months rent when she moved in. With her deposit, she's out over $10,000.

"Just be a good person and turn around. Do something. Give somebody something back, even if it's, like, a little bit," Cantell said.

Ristow said the city is preparing to find a way to have the homes demolished. Estimates have come in between $5,000 and $20,000 per house, and the total cost could sail well over $1 million.

"Everybody stepped up except the owners," Faust said.

"I think he doesn't care. I think he's just like, 'It's not my problem, it's their problem.' And he thinks someone is going to bail him out," Cantell said.

She and her boyfriend are still searching for a home. In the meantime, they're living in a one-bedroom apartment with six children.

City officials said the owner of Green Acres offered to buy the property from Helm, but it didn't work out.