By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer
Recent heavy rain swelled area waterways and flooded property all over the state, but it did not flood Prairie Ditch in Peru. Local officials say that fact could help remove the area’s floodplain designation, which it’s had for nearly a century.
The ditch runs roughly half a mile from North Broadway Street to Denver Park just south of U.S. 24, and is primely located property for business development in the city. It’s designation as a floodplain, however, has deterred businesses and industry from building in the area.
City officials have argued for years that the entire area around Prairie Ditch should be removed from the floodplain and be available for development since, they say, it has never flooded.
Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said he observed part of the ditch on April 20 after around 3.5 inches of rainfall drenched the area. He said the parts of the ditch he monitored didn’t experience any flooding.
The city installed monitoring devices in 2007 to collect water-flow data from the ditch. Tidd said data collected from last week’s rain event could be used to further the city’s case that the ditch isn’t a flood hazard.
He said the data will be analyzed by an outside firm, which could use the water flow information to simulate a 100-year flood event and demonstrate the area won’t flood.
“With this last big rain, we could strengthen our case to FEMA to lift the designation,” Tidd said.
National Weather Service officials said Peru has experienced only one other rain event that was more than 3 inches in a 24-hour period since 2007, when the ditch’s monitoring devices were installed. Since 1992, more than 3 inches fell in 24 hours seven times.
Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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