Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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May 7, 2013

Tipton flood losses could top $2.5 million

Mayor predicts dire outcome without state, federal funds.

Tipton — Damage costs from the April flooding in the city of Tipton are expected to exceed $2.5 million and result in the displacement of a large number of residents.

Both the Tipton County Commissioners and Tipton Mayor Don Havens provided impact statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the hope the community will be declared a disaster area and thus eligible for federal and state financial assistance.

Havens said the city has spent an estimated $150,000 on flood debris removal and landfill fees from the April 19 and 20 flooding along Big Cicero Creek and Buck Creek.

“I expect those costs could double,” he said.

Havens said the flood debris and landfill costs could be equal to 10 percent of the city’s $3 million tax revenue once all the expenditures are determined.

“We have worked hard in the hope the state and federal governments will find we’re eligible for public assistance,” he said. “Right now we’re taking the money from our operating balance.”

Havens said if there is no reimbursement from the state and federal government, it will impact the city’s budget for the remainder of the year.

In his impact statement, Havens said approximately 5 percent of the population has been displaced, the property tax base will decline by 8 to 10 percent and the private losses to real and personal property will exceed $2.5 million.

Havens said the flood disproportionately affected lower income and lesser educated individuals in the community.

The long-term impact could be the abandonment of up to 10 percent of the damaged properties, loss of population, and need to repair infrastructure damaged by water flow and penetration.

The Tipton County Commissioners in their impact statement made a point to note flood control measures need to be taken on Big Cicero Creek.

Commissioner Joe VanBibber said flood mitigation is a priority in the community.

“We went through the studies,” he said of flood mitigation efforts in the past. “It’s time that it comes before the public.”

VanBibber said there are numerous options to eliminate flooding in Tipton.

He said the county is focusing on new flood insurance maps which are currently under appeal by the city of Tipton. “Instead of expanding the floodplain, we could be looking at eliminating the floodplain,” he said.

The Big Cicero Creek Board should be the public agency that tackles flood mitigation in Tipton, VanBibber said. He added all of the studies remain active.

Havens estimated the cost of flood control measures at between $8 million and $12 million.

“Approximately 25 percent of our residential community and nearly all of our institutional community and recreational areas will be viewed for at least one generation as areas prone to flooding and therefore areas not suitable for future investment,” he wrote. “The impact of this failure to invest may affect the ability of the community to provide necessary hospital and long-term care services to its population, which is aging and in decline.”

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