Effective as of Oct. 1, 2013, it is likely that a home can no longer be sold in Rocky Ripple (providing it involves a loan) because of the increased flood insurance associated with its purchase. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), our flood insurance rates are heavily subsidized and those subsidies are going away, effective immediately in some circumstances.
According to the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, all "non primary" residences (e.g. rental homes) will see their flood insurance rates rise by 25 percent per year until they reach the effective national market rate.
Also, if you were to sell your home, the flood insurance rates for the new owner would immediately rise to this market rate.
To give you an idea of what this market rate would look like, we know of an instance where a person tried to buy a house in Rocky Ripple for $112,000 but had to back out when he found out that his annual flood insurance premiums would be around $7,000per year for said house.
Think about this for a moment. The prospective owner would be paying as much in flood insurance as they are their mortgage each year. The troubling part is that this insurance rate could be much more if the house was worth more. Following this logic, it could be expected that a $250,000 home would have flood insurance that would come in around $15,000 per year.
For those of us who are not looking to sell, and our properties are primary residences for us, our rates will remain the same, just so long as (i) we don't sell our property (ii) we don't let our policies lapse (iii) we don't have repeated flood claims, or (iv) the Flood Insurance Rate Maps aren't modified.
This being said, we are encouraging everyone to make sure that they pay their flood insurance premiums on time. The best way that you can keep your flood insurance premiums where they are is to keep paying them, plain and simple.
In addition to that, you can fight for fair and equal flood protection by commenting on the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (FSEIS) with regards to the Indianapolis North Flood Reduction Project. If we get the USACE to include us in their flood project, this whole flood insurance business will largely go away and the Rocky Ripple housing market will remain strong and continue to thrive as it has for many years, not only insuring the value of your home but most likely increasing it.
Okay, that being said, you know the drill. We've been here before, but this time we are playing for keeps. If we don't get flood protection, we are both literally and figuratively sunk. If the floods don't get us, the flood insurance surely will.
The comment period for the FSEIS ends on October 31st, next Thursday. Without exception, everyone of us needs to send a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers letting them know that we both need and deserve fair and adequate flood protection that has been accorded to everyone else in the Indy North Side Flood Reduction Project. We are not second-class citizens and we deserve the same treatment that everyone has been given upstream of us.
I will not lie to you and tell you this is an easy fight. Honestly, if we are to win this, everyone has to step up, and I do mean everyone! We on the town board cannot fight this alone. We have had countless meetings and built relationships with surrounding communities in the past couple of years, but now is the time for you to do your part and weigh in with the Army Corps of Engineers. If you don't speak up now, you will have only yourself to blame if your house values plummet because we didn't get flood protection.
And, yes, the Army Corp of Engineers does pay attention to your letters and they especially pay attention to the number that they receive. So, with that in mind, please make sure to get something in by the deadline of October 31st. Don't worry, if it's not the best thing you've ever written, just get it in. A couple of sentences are a thousand times better than nothing at all.
For more information on the current USACE project proposals, please follow this link: http://rockyripple.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=ad15075436e621ba94edfd1f1&id=38c928f513&e=48d17fadc8
With that being said, please send the USACE your thoughts. I've included some information as far as contacts and talking points below:
Your letters should be addressed to the following:
Army Corps of Engineers
Colonel Luke T. Leonard
US Army Corps of Engineers,
PO Box 59
Louisville, KY 40201
Note: Comments will also be accepted through e-mail at email@example.com
You can also can and should contact the following, but these are only additional outlets for your message. Your primary message should go to the Army Corps of Engineers above.
Additional Important Contacts:
City of Indianapolis
Director, Indianapolis Department of Public Works
2460 City-County Building
200 E. Washington St.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
You can also contact
Mayor Gregory Ballard
City of Indianapolis
2501 City County Building
200 East Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Congressman André Carson
300 E Fall Creek Pkwy N Dr., Suite 300
Indianapolis, IN 46205-4258
or (317) 283-6516
(Note: scroll to end of page to access form.)
(You can also thank Congressman Carson for his May 4, 2011, letter supporting Rocky Ripple!)
*** Be sure to reference the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Indianapolis, White River (North), IN Flood Damage Reduction Project Phase 3B. Include your name and address. Before mailing your letter, make copies and send those to the other officials named (or deliver via e‐mail).
It is critical that officials here from you.
It's critical that your letter or email comes from you! Personalize your letter email - officials respond better to your personal reasons for taking a particular position on an issue. And finally, it's critical that we be professional and polite in our correspondence.
Here are some reasons you might include in your letter/email for those who oppose the ACE proposals.
* The Army Corps of Engineers should design a plan that protects all life and property.
* In the event of a flood warning, the proposed sandbag closures of the 52nd and 53rd Street bridges would prevent any and all traffic into and out of Rocky Ripple, including emergency vehicles.
* Butler University's Board of Trustees continues to oppose options that exclude Rocky Ripple. The Board recently voted not to support the current plans, or any that does not include protection for Rocky Ripple.
* The Army Corps of Engineers needs to reevaluate its proposals - not enough information is provided in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. For instance, the ACE should not approve any plan that walls off an entire community and puts any life at risk.
* What guarantee exists that in the event of a major flood event, a gate on 52nd Street would be closed in time to prevent flooding beyond Rocky Ripple? Who within the City of Indianapolis or the Town of Rocky Ripple can provide a 100 percent guarantee that this function will be performed, for instance, at 3 a.m. in driving rain, in January (consider 1991)?
* The proposed alignments would adversely affect the property value of homes in the Butler - Tarkington neighborhood and in the Town of Rocky Ripple.
* As tax payers, Rocky Ripple residents should expect (and receive) the same level of flood protection as other tax-paying citizens.
* The American Water Works Association designated the Central Canal as an American Water Landmark in 1971. Compromising the Canal also compromises plans for Art2Art, a project endorsed by Mayor Ballard and supported with a planning grant from the Central Indiana Community Foundation. The proposed project will degrade the aesthetic beauty of this city treasure.
* Citizens' Water has voiced their opposition to the ACE's current recommendations.
* Given that the White River will be channeled from Broad Ripple, south to and including the area adjacent to the Riviera Club, residents of Rocky Ripple will become increasingly vulnerable to flood events given that channeled water tends to flow faster and higher, thus further eroding and compromising what remains of the 1930s earthen levee that surrounds the Town of Rocky Ripple.
* Many residents did not live in Rocky Ripple in the mid 1990s. To exclude an entire community based on a straw poll with a ten-vote difference conducted in the mid 1990s is hardly a referendum for failing to protect an entire community from flooding.
Add your personal reasons for wanting the current project stopped and the comment period extended. In stopping the current project, ask officials to reconsider flood protection for Rocky Ripple.
Here's a quick summary of the ACE options:
* The Rocky Ripple alignment proposes 300-year flood wall protection along the White River around our community and requires. This is the best option for all of us. For the most part, there is no opposition to this alignment either from people in Rocky Ripple or our surrounding neighbors. With this option, both our houses and our flood insurance will be protected.
* The Westfield Alignment proposes a wall along Westfield Boulevard and the canal; offers no flood protection to our community and it walls Rocky Ripple into the flood plain. Our flood insurance will remain high in perpetuity with this alignment.
* 56th Street - Revised Alignment (i.e. the Chase Bank Alignment)proposes a wall across the canal just north of Chase Bank, affecting Westfield traffic and the 56th and Illinois Street business corridors and offers no flood protection to our community. No help to Rocky Ripple whatsoever with this option.
If any objective other than the Rocky Ripple alignment is chosen, our community will be devastated.
THE TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW!!!
Rocky Ripple Town Board President
For more information on the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, see the document below created by one of Rocky Ripple's most stalwart advocates:
Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012:
Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy put unprecedented stress on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) over the last several years, causing billions in damages and losses to the NFIP. The NFIP is the only source of flood insurance for anyone living in a flood zone, coastal or inland. Federal subsidies for certain policies, about 20% of all flood insurance rate payers, have been in effect for decades. The Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW12) begins to take some of those subsidies away immediately (businesses and non-primary residences), and for primary residences upon resale of the property or upon lapse of policy. Under federal law, those with federally backed mortgages in flood zones are required to buy flood insurance.
As of October 1, 2013, BW12 institutes a rating system for flood insurance that utilizes a property's relationship to Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for purposes of determining risk of loss and flood insurance premium. BFE is the 1% chance of exceedance - or said another way, the chance that a flood will hit that level is 1%. This is also the same thing as a "100-year flood." Some properties under this new system will see decreases in rates because the property's lowest rated level is higher than BFE even though they are in a flood zone. However if a property's lowest rated level is at or below BFE, the premium will rise substantially.
For those that live below BFE, BW12 has a significant negative impact on single family primary residences, which are most working-family's largest asset. BW12 immediately devalues the home itself due to the cost of flood insurance to a prospective buyer.
* For example, a home that is 4 feet below BFE in a river flood zone (zone AE) pays about $1,750 per year for $250k of structural coverage (the maximum amount of coverage you can buy). Under the BW12, the cost of that insurance is estimated to be more than $10,000 per year.
* During the week of Oct. 14, 2013, a $112,000 property in Indianapolis, IN had an accepted offer of purchase, however the buyer backed out when they were told their flood insurance premium would cost $7,000 per year.
Better Solutions Must Be Found
While it may be a desired federal policy for building to stop in high risk flood areas, or at least building at or below BFE to stop, it is not equitable to those families with current mortgages to be financially devastated due to risks outside of their control. In addition, real estate markets will freeze in these areas and homes may be abandoned.
Most if not all of the attention to this matter focuses on coastal areas where Katrina and Sandy had the most impact and the debate rages as to how those communities will be rebuilt. However, this law also impacts inland homes and flood insurance premiums, and is terrible public policy. If it is a federal interest for people not to live in flood zones, then buy out those homes at market value and condemn the land.