AUSTELL, Ga. -- Nearly three years after an historic flood, dozens of homes in the city of Austell sit damaged and empty.
On Pontiac Circle in Austell, several homes that were invaded by Sweetwater Creek in September of 2009 are now evidence of neglect. Some of them are skeletons where there has been little to no repair work. Others are hidden behind a wall of weeds.
At the Sweetwater Valley condominium complex, Dawn Wilde has spent the last three years looking at dozens of units that are boarded up and empty. She thought by now they would have been repaired or torn down.
"It's a shame," said Wilde. "You think of what was and what can be. It could be a beautiful spot where we could have good families in there again. It's frustrating."
At last count, Austell had 90 flood damaged homes that are vacant. A total of 700 homes were damaged by the 2009 flood.
Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins says many of the owners simply walked away. To condemn and demolish the homes, the city has to find those owners. Jerkins says that has been a struggle.
"When we contact the banks holding the mortgage, in some cases they'll tell us they've sold it to a mortgage company," said Jerkins. "The mortgage company will tell us they don't know what they're going to do with the property, that they don't even want to foreclose on it."
In Powder Springs, where 100 homes were damaged by the flood, 11 sit vacant. All but one of the homes were vacated after the owners made repairs.
Using federal disaster money, Austell was able to buy and demolish 23 homes. Mayor Jerkins says the money is available to demolish eight more. The city is awaiting approval from the federal government.
The city will meet next week to discuss what more can be done about the vacant homes that remain.