Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 4, 2014

Local agencies to answer questions about flooding

Residents invited to open house today at Howard County government building.

By Martin Slagter Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — How does the Wildcat Creek watershed work? What causes the creek to flood? How does Howard County respond to flooding?

Residents will be given an opportunity to ask these and other questions about flooding during an information session today hosted by the Howard County Stormwater District. Several agencies will have representatives present to help residents gain a better understanding of flooding along Wildcat Creek.

The event will be from 4 to 6 p.m. in room 101 of the Howard County government building and will feature an open house format. Residents will be able to come at their convenience and speak with staff from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Howard County Plan Commission, Howard County Surveyor, Howard County Stormwater District, Howard County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Indiana-American Water Company.

Howard County Stormwater District Administrator Greg Lake said the informational gathering was organized in response to concerns residents expressed in the past year about flooding.

“The No. 1 complaint or concern I hear is ‘I have lived here for 40 years, and I’ve never had [water] in my house until last spring,’” Lake said. “Individuals who have lived here a long time have never seen water like that before. The difference between what’s happening and what’s coincidental is what we have to sort out and find out what’s happening with the watershed.”

Having multiple agencies that all play a significant role in floodplain management in one spot will be helpful in explaining to residents complex management of the watershed.

“All of the agencies that will be there play a role in floodplain management, and each will have information about floodplain management procedures and other programs that impact flooding issues,” Lake said. “We want to answer questions so that people can understand how the watershed works, what causes the flooding or potential flooding and how to deal with it.”

Lake said the meeting also will serve as a precursor for the county’s Multi Hazard Mitigation Plan meeting on March 27. The meeting will provide a comprehensive look at the county’s plan for natural disasters including tornadoes, floods, snowstorms, earthquakes and dam failures.

Kokomo/Howard County Plan Director Greg Sheline said the county must update its Hazard Mitigation Plan every five years. The meeting, which will take place at 6 p.m. in the city council chambers, will allow officials to get input from residents about their concerns.

Sheline said the county must submit an updated version of its plan to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or it cannot receive funding for projects like flood mitigation. The county has held three steering committee meetings on the subject so far.

“Our community has been tested in the last year [by natural disasters],” Sheline said. “It is important for people to show up and for us to get this plan completed. We’ll have a full staff there to help answer any questions people might have. [Residents] might be bringing something to our attention that we might not be aware of.”

Martin Slagter can be reached at 765-454-8570, martin.slagter@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @slagterm.

If you go: What: Howard County Stormwater District open house When: 4 to 6 p.m. today Where: Howard County government building, 220 N. Main St., Kokomo, room 101 Why: Residents can speak with representatives from Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Howard County Plan Commission, Howard County Surveyor, Howard County Stormwater District, Howard County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Indiana-American Water Company about flooding in the region.