Looming Effects of Biggert-Waters on Warfleigh

As I research and read more about the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 and the subsequent Homeowners Flood Affordability Act of 2014, I find all kinds of articles and comments that pertain to the neighborhood of Warfleigh.

Make no doubt about it, if something doesn’t change, Warfleigh is doomed.  As the time-frame for the Homeowners Flood Affordability Act of 2014 nears, anyone with a mortgage with be paying “market-rates” for flood insurance.

At our most recent meeting downtown with the Department of Public Works, we mentioned the DPW project manager and staff that we expected to pay $8,000-$10,000 PER YEAR in flood insurance.  They informed us that they had heard “it was going to be more than that”.

I ask you … can you afford this??  I know we can’t.  What’s worse, is if we decide to move, we won’t be able to sell our house home because who in their right mind would buy our house with those rates looming?  And if we decide to move and rent our home, our flood insurance rates will triple because the flood insurance for non-owner occupied is even more outrageous!

The impact of these changes will forever alter the character of Scituate Warfleigh. The financial impact will result in decreased property values leaving homeowners and business owners unable to afford the new flood insurance premiums and/or remain in Scituate Warfleigh. This will diminish Scituate’s Warfleigh tax base, negatively affecting services including schools, Fire, Police Departments and our towns’ Indianapolis’s vital infrastructure.


What can you do?

We urge you to write (or better yet, email) and call public officials including our Board of Selectmen Congresswoman Susan Brooks, Massachusetts Indiana Senators and Representatives. We have included a sample and contact information for your convenience. Go to our “Resources” tab and you will find:

1. Samples of letters to send to our elected officials
2. Legislative contact information for our elected officials.

Reposted from http://scituatecoastalcoalition.org/biggert-waters_flood_insurance_reform_act_of_2012

Response from Congresswoman Brooks office (Karen Glaser)

Subject: RE: Save Warfleigh: Thank-you and feedback
From: “Glaser, Karen” <Karen.Glaser@mail.house.gov>
Date: Tue, Feb 24, 2015 10:06 am
To: Jim Polito

Dear Jim,

Thanks again for inviting me to your meeting last Thursday and thanks for the summary of your concerns. I briefed Congresswoman Brooks on the meeting and shared your email with her. I am working closely with her and our DC office to figure out how we can assist. We have several irons in the fire at this point and I hope to have more information on our specific steps to you next week. In the meantime, if there is other information or specific questions you have, please let me know.

Karen

From: Jim Polito
Sent: Saturday, February 21, 2015 8:16 PM
To: Glaser, Karen

Subject: Save Warfleigh: Thank-you and feedback

Hi Karen,

Thank-you so much for taking the time out to share your perspective on recent changes in the National Flood Insurance Program and the status of the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project. We especially appreciate your attendance on perhaps the coldest night of the winter season. We also appreciate the ways you mentioned Congresswoman Susan Brooks may be able to intervene on our behalf in a matter that so profoundly and fundamentally affects our lives and well-being.

We are beginning to receive feedback on your presentation. Unfortunately, there is a certain sense of disappointment, especially with the characterization of the dire circumstances in which we now find ourselves as largely a local issue:

(1) Warfleigh neighbors face the distinct possibility of foreclosure and bankruptcy as annual premiums for flood insurance rise to the range of $8,000 – $11,000 per year. This possibility results from recent changes in federal legislation and, accordingly, it likely is not appropriate to characterize our issue as a local issue.

(2) Homeowners who must relocate due to personal or professional reasons are unable to sell their homes due to uncertainty regarding future premiums and rates for flood insurance. These same homeowners also are not able to rent their homes as an alternative to selling because annual flood insurance premiums for non-primary residences are roughly double the rates and premiums of primary residences. We may colloquially refer to this as adding insult to injury. This situation results from recent changes in federal legislation and, accordingly, it likely is not appropriate to characterize our issue as a local issue.

(3) Finally, representative Warfleigh homes will be under at least 5’ of water should a significant flood event occur. It is a federal issue when a locality fails to protect in an expeditious manner the life and property of its citizenry.

I’m sorry I can’t share more positive feedback. Unfortunately, the Warfleigh neighborhood finds itself in an extremely negative and untenable position.

Sincerely,

Jim Polito

Join SAVE WARFLEIGH this Thursday, February 26

If you attended the SAVE WARFLEIGH meeting last Thursday night, you know that one of the big takeaways was that Warfleigh must have a loud, consistent, unified message that we express to the City, our elected officials, the stakeholders that stalled the project (Butler University, Butler Tarkington and Citizens Energy),  the neighborhood Associations that voted against Warfleigh (Broad Ripple Village Association, Meridian Kessler) as well as groups such as Midtown Indianapolis (also voted against us).

This Thursday, February 26, we have a chance to be heard!  PLEASE plan to join us at the Mayor’s Night Out at Second Presbyterian Church (Sanctuary),7700 N. Meridian Street, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. More info HERE.  It will be a great opportunity to show the Mayor and others that we (Warfleigh) want this project finished!  It is an open forum and questions will be written.

We will be in the parking lot early with a few picket signs. For those who are staying for the meeting, we will also have questions that you can use if you don’t have your own.

Meeting with DPW on February 3, Recap

Members of Save Warfleigh recently met with the City of Department of Public Works (“DPW”).  DPW staff attempted to answer all our questions and we gained important information and updates.  However, the information was somewhat discouraging and it only highlighted the importance of our initiative.  In fact, based on the meeting, it seems the need for our action now becomes even more critical and urgent.

Project Delay

The City no longer seeks the most expeditious completion of the flood wall project and, instead, seeks to pursue a project that, according to the City, if feasible, will be completed at the earliest by summer of 2020.

The Illinois Street alternative would complete the project most expeditiously.  Instead, the City now pursues the West Bank Alignment.  Completing the West Bank Alignment entails numerous tasks and steps:

(1) The Corps must first determine if they can develop an additional contract with the City that will allow the Corps to participate in the study and construction of the West Bank Alignment.  The Corps has completed the “white paper” that seeks to obtain this approval.  It is not clear at this time if we will receive a copy of that document.

(2) The City must complete an initial feasibility study to determine whether a subsequent detailed feasibility study for the project is warranted.  The City anticipates this study will be complete by summer 2015.

(3) If the initial feasibility study shows an in-depth study is warranted, then the City will work with the Corps (depending on the resolution of #1, above) to complete the in-depth study.  This could take 18 months to 2 years.

(4) If the detailed study shows the project passes certain benefit cost tests, then, at the very earliest, the project could be completed by summer 2020.

(5) The City has neither developed nor considered what alternative it would pursue should the initial feasibility study show the West Bank Alignment is not feasible.

(6) The City indicated the major opponents of the Illinois Street Alternative include Citizen’s Energy Group, Butler University and Butler-Tarkington residents.  The City also indicates proponents of the West Bank Alignment indicate other alternatives fail to protect the City’s water supply; however, this directly conflicts with the information the City provides on its website:

http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPW/RebuildIndy/Projects/Pages/LeveeProjectFAQ.aspx

Tree Clearing

(1) The City indicated that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) Levee Safety Officer stated the levee will not be certified unless the trees are removed.

(2) The City explained that tree removal is part of the process that will result in partial certification of the levee.  Partial certification will only remove a very small part of Broad Ripple from the 100-year flood plain into the 500-year flood plain.

(3) The DPW indicated once partial certification is complete, then control and maintenance of the levee passes from the USACE to the City.

(4) The DPW flood wall project manager could not identify any immediate benefit to Warfleigh from the tree removal.

(5) The DPW project manager could not provide information regarding the USACE compliance with the Water Resource Reform and Development Act of 2014 (“WRRDA”) See:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr3080/text

However, the DPW project manager did claim the DPW has sent a request to the USACE to comment on its compliance with the WRRDA.  It is not clear whether we will receive from the DPW a copy of the USACE’s comments.

(6) Save Warfleigh asked DPW staff for assistance in contacting the USACE regarding WRRDA compliance and other pertinent project information.  DPW staff recommended we visit the USACE website and find contact information for the USACE Louisville District Commander, Public Information Officer and/or Levee Safety Officer.

Based on the above, it appears our actions now are more critical and urgent.  The City has put the interests of every project stakeholder that does not live in the flood plain before the interests of those of us who actually live in the flood plain.  It is astounding that our local, state and federal elected representatives can allow our lives and property to remain at risk for such an extended period of time, while at the same time exposing us to severe financial hardship.

SAVE WARFLEIGH petition ~ we need MORE signatures!

Thanks so much to the 433 people that have signed our petition!  We want at least 5000.  If you are wondering how you can help, I’ve reposted some great ideas that I found on Moveon.org where our petition is hosted.  If you want help with any of these ideas, please email info@savewarfleigh.org and we will find a way to help you!

Campaign Tips

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