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Area Flooding History

Flooding has occurred periodically on the White River in Indianapolis.  The March 1913 flood, a 500-year event, is the flood of record for the White River in the Indianapolis area.  Major floods also occurred in 1937 and 1943.  In the period from 1953 through 2002, there were four significant flood events on the White River.  The April 1964 flood was the largest in this period.  The 1964 flood was slightly larger than the January 1991 flood and is estimated between a 15-year to 20-year flood event.

The most recent flood event of significance occurred in January 1991 when flooding, estimated at a 15-year flood event, forced evacuation of 500 homes in Marion County and caused extensive property damage.  The flooding interrupted utility services to thousands of homes, damaged numerous roadways impairing access to the public, and resulted in several life threatening injuries.  During this flood, water came through and under the Warfleigh levee.  Engineering studies conducted in response to this flood determined that the existing levee would breach before it was overtopped.  This would create a catastrophic situation, possibly resulting in loss of life, since there would be little or no warning.

Since the 1991 flood, there have been additional flood events occurring in May 2002, July 2003, January 2005 and, most recently, January 2007.  During the January 2007 event, the river remained above flood stage for a period of eight (8) days.

Project Purpose and Need

 The purpose of the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project (“Project”) is to provide flood risk management for the communities of Monon-Broad Ripple, Warfleigh, and South Warfleigh. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) has completed construction of various initial floodwall segments and now seeks to complete the Project. Completing the Project will remove approximately 2,400 properties from the 100-year floodplain and provide flood damage reduction at a level of protection commonly referred to as the 300-year flood protection level.

Project Description

 The Corps has extensively reviewed, analyzed and evaluated various alternatives to complete the floodwall in light of the Project’s purpose — to maximize flood risk management in a way that is both technically and economically feasible. The Corps’ analysis identifies the “Illinois Street Variation” and the “Westfield Boulevard Alternative” as feasible alternatives for completing the Project based on the following considerations:

• The selected alternatives are consistent with its congressional authorization;

• The selected alternatives minimally impact the environment and protect, preserve, and enhance historic, cultural and natural resources while fulfilling the purpose and need for the Project; and

• The selected alternatives provide positive net benefits.

The Illinois Street Variation consists of a floodwall that would begin to the north of the Riviera Club property, head eastward across North Illinois Street, the Citizens Water Canal and Westfield Boulevard, and terminate on high ground just east of Chase Bank.  See Map

The Westfield Boulevard Alternative, the City’s chosen alternative, consists of a floodwall that would begin at the south end of the Riviera Club property, cross the Citizens Water Canal near the intersection of Westfield Boulevard and North Capitol Avenue, extend southward running between the Canal and Westfield Boulevard, and terminate on high ground at Butler University.  See Map


United States Army Corps of Engineers, Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project, Marion County, Indiana (June 2013).

United States Army Corps of Engineers, Record of Decision for Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project, Marion County, Indiana (June 27, 2014).

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