Last month, the Indiana Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management (INAFSM) held their annual conference in Angola, Indiana.  As you can imagine, a topic of discussion was the heavy rains that the State of Indiana experienced. People agreed that we had two rains this year, one that lasted all of May and another that lasted all of June…

Ohio River Bridge

Work is still proceeding rapidly on the new I-65 bridge in the Louisville area, even with the heavy rains from earlier this year.

With the heavy rains came the flooding, along with a disheartening realization by some property owners that no one will be there to help them with their costly repairs. I have listened to several people say, “No one told me I needed flood insurance”.

Once the damage is done and the flood waters have receded, how does local government respond and help those that did not have flood insurance and/or prepare for a future flood?

Limited options

If you have a qualified event and resulting loss, filing a claim is your next step…if you have flood insurance.  There are not many realistic options for most communities to help those that are not insured.  The primary request is for local government to purchase their home.  In the Louisville area, the Metropolitan Sewer District has allocated approximately $1 million dollars to buy out various property owners…but few communities have this kind of money to allocate towards property buyouts.  Others request reimbursement of physical property that was destroyed, such as tools in a garage or a heat pump next to the house.

Looking towards the future

If multiple structures took damage in an area, then a community should consider at least two things:

  1. Look for solutions that improve drainage for those areas, without creating more problems for someone else in a different place. Perhaps there is a choke-point that can be fixed;
  2. Review the current floodplain maps created for accuracy.

If structures are being damaged and they are not in the ‘100 year floodplain’, then perhaps the floodplain maps need improved.  An article about this occurring in Colorado was sent to me by David McGimpsey: “Study of 2013 Colorado Flood Could Mean Hazard Zones Expand, Bringing Higher Costs For Some“.

This type of study is also being considered by some in Southern Indiana.  I will talk about the higher costs in my next post.

The flood finale

A surprising number of people want a solution in their backyard, at the expense of a neighbor.  While I understand that people want immediate flood relief, sometimes a fix takes some time by local government.  Conveying that message to the disappointed public is a huge challenge. Take the extra time to meet with them and keep them in the loop about the plans you have to help the community recover and move forward.