Indianapolis buys 14 properties for flood control from Rocky Ripple

INDIANAPOLIS — The city of Indianapolis plans to buy and demolish 14 properties along the White River for a project to protect Rocky Ripple from the next flood once every 100 years.

The last flood of this type dates back to 1913.

“The current seawall was built in 1937,” said Department of Public Works director Dan Parker. “He is not accredited by the US Army Corp of Engineers. It is not FEMA certified. It does not offer protection against a hundred-year flood. The city would eventually be under almost 20 feet of water when we have a 100 year flood.

The existing seawall has suffered from decades of maintenance neglect, which has left the mound of earth prone to tree and brush growth and encroachment by houses.

The 14 properties are north of Butler University and include City Hall and houses that would be purchased and demolished.

“When we found this one, it was like, ‘This is it, this is the house we want to raise our daughter in,'” Emma Hudelson said as she cradled her daughter Fern on the back patio of their home. in the 5100 block. of Riverview Drive. “We were absolutely shocked to learn that our house would be removed.”

Hudelson’s home is one of the properties the City is proposing to use to build a dike and flood wall system and meet its $75 million budget.

“We eliminated a proposal that called for spending over $100 million because it’s just outside of our budget,” Parker said. “The associated costs have increased simply because of where we are now compared to three or four years ago, and therefore the costs of the project have increased and we have to try to keep it within budget.

Under the City’s original proposal, steel walls along the rear of properties on Riverview Drive would have held back the White River while allowing homeowners to stay in their homes.

“We knew there would be a wall going through our backyard, that we would lose part of our patio, and we were fine with that,” Hudelson said. “The agreement had always been that no houses would be taken to build this wall.”

But the rising cost of steel to build the flood walls quickly pushed the city out of its budget, Parker said, and it became clear that it would be cheaper to buy the properties, demolish the houses and build earthen dykes that would stretch from the edge of the river almost to the street.

“Rocky Ripple is in a flood plain. I think there are a lot of people in the community who are interested in flood protection,” Councilwoman Megan Hulland said. “I think there are people who are unsure about the future of the flood insurance program.”

Rocky Ripple’s roughly 300 property owners pay for flood insurance that costs $1,200 to $1,700 a year, and some believe that requirement will disappear or be reduced if the flood control system is built.

“I chose to live in Rocky Ripple. I knew from day one that I would live with the river. The river has ruled our politics and it rules our lives,” said Margaret Brabant who lives next to the river. since 1993. “I am going to lose my garden and probably a tree that I love very much.

“We have to protect our neighbours. We must protect what is so unique about Rocky Ripple.

Hulland said one of the soon-to-be-relocated residents has lived in the same house his entire life.

“It’s just heartbreaking to think of the residents who have lived here for 80 years and are now being asked to eventually be moved from their homes,” Hulland said. “We need a flood protection solution for the town of Rocky Ripple. I think what we lack in the City is some transparency as to what alternatives have been considered or why we have come to this point where 14 homes are in the crosshairs.

“We’ll see if the city continues to support the advancement and try to protect the city from our next 100-year flood,” Parker said. “Those conversations with the city are ongoing.”

Hudelson said she watches four bald eagles nest in a giant sycamore tree across the river from her home and wonders if her daughter will ever be able to enjoy the serene wildlife in the secluded neighborhood.

“They will be bought up and torn down and will put us in a really bad spot because we moved into this house at a pretty good time and it’s not the right time to be looking for a house,” Hudelson said who was promised that she would be offered fair market value of the house. “We have lost the dream. If we lose this house, we won’t be able to stay in this neighborhood unless an absolute miracle happens.

Comments are closed.