Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Letter to the Editor: Army Corps of Engineers

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 8:30 AM

A rendering of possible floodwall design along the canal just west of intersection of Illinois and Westfield. - COURTESY OF THE INDIANAPOLIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
  • Courtesy of the Indianapolis Department of Public Works
  • A rendering of possible floodwall design along the canal just west of intersection of Illinois and Westfield.

Dear readers,

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Indianapolis North levee and floodwall project is currently designed to minimize flood damages in three areas: Broad Ripple, Warfleigh and South Warfleigh along the White River. The City of Indianapolis is the local cost share sponsor.

Regardless of how the project is completed, until all three levee sections are built, all neighborhoods are vulnerable to potential flooding. That said, the National Weather Service forecasts, flood warning systems and other preparedness plans designed to preserve public safety all help to prepare for flood risk during heavy rain.

The Westfield Boulevard alternative offered by the Corps to complete the levee system would not induce flooding in the Rocky Ripple community. The Westfield Blvd. alternative — if funded by the President and Congress in upcoming years — could lead to a completed levee system protecting those in the project footprint. The levee would tie in at high ground at Butler University property. Any Army Corps of Engineers flood protection project cannot induce flooding in any other areas near or far from the project, nor downstream, nor upstream — anywhere; this is law the Corps must follow. Rocky Ripple would be in the same position if the Westfield Blvd. alternative were constructed, that they are now. They would remain at risk for flood damages during a potential flood event — more at risk than those areas previously mentioned if the project were completed.

As a flood preparedness measure, an early flood warning system was built in 2009 as part of the first phase of the project and is currently operating. This warning system is a collaborative effort between government agencies. The warning system is tied to the White River gauge network and has been incorporated into the City's Flood Response Plan (FRP), according to Indianapolis Department of Public Works. The new system hardware and software was launched in partnership with USGS. The system is tied to the river gauge network and has been incorporated into the City's web-based Flood Response Plan (FRP). The FRP is an application for use by the City departments such as DPW and Public Safety who initiate emergency services and disaster response:

The Corps of Engineers advocates for all communities to become familiar with flood preparedness plans and learn from reputable sources to gain understanding of how neighborhoods can advocate for life safety and be ready when the water rises. If you live behind a levee, one has to embrace uncertainty about flooding. We don't know when it will flood, and we don't know how high the water could get. But, we all can learn to be prepared. Levees and floodwalls minimize the risk of flood damages, but they do not eliminate flooding.

While the completion of the project is under deliberation, it behooves all of us to inform themselves and learn about preparing for any potential flooding. I have enclosed a link to a brochure titled, "So you live behind a levee" published by the American Society of Civil Engineers and resourced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Ultimately, the questions we need to ask ourselves are how can we reduce risk of flooding, at what cost and what can all of us do now to ensure public safety?


Carol J. Labashosky

Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District

Editor's Note: Corps to host open house and hearing

The Corps will hold an open house and hearing to provide handouts, answer questions and solicit written and oral comments on the various White River flood management scenarios outlined in its DSEIS.

The open house is set for 5 p.m., followed by a hearing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23, at Meridian Street United Methodist Church, 5500 N. Meridian St.

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