Without much fanfare, the city of Kokomo has been acquiring properties to the south of the Wildcat Creek, as part of an emerging strategy to control future flooding.
The city now owns a dozen properties in a flood-prone depression centered around Carter and Murden streets, making the area a focal point as city officials look for ways to increase flood storage capacity.
That’s not to say city officials are ready to reveal their flood control plans just yet.
“It’s mainly just to give relief to the property owners,” Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said of the property acquisitions Friday. “It is part of the plan, but the details haven’t been worked out yet.”
There’s little mystery as to why the Carter/Murden and Park Avenue areas keep flooding, as they’ve done around half a dozen times in little more than the past decade.
Floodplain areas that used to store and slowly release flood waters have been filled in by developers, leaving fewer places for storm waters to go. One of the poorest areas of the city, the Carter/Murden hollow appears to have become a de facto retention basin, even as families have tried to occupy the few remaining, flood-damaged homes there.
That’s why the city has been acquiring properties in the Carter/Murden area for more than a decade.
Even before the massive flood in 2003, which saw emergency crews evacuate Carter and Murden streets with boats, the city was tearing down houses in the area.
All of the homes in those streets have been repeatedly flooded, with perhaps one or two exceptions where the owners elevated the foundations.
Since the basin endured the city’s highest-ever recorded flood levels on April 19 of this year, the pace of acquisition appears to have increased, with the city Board of Public Works & Safety accepting the donations of at least three addresses.