A northern Indiana city that sits along the Wabash River is home to thousands more flood-prone homes and properties than are listed on federal floodplain maps, new research shows.
The study by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group, found that 4,859 parcels of land in the city of Peru are at risk of flooding. That’s nearly 600% more Peru properties than the 712 listed on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s current floodplain maps.
Those nearly 4,900 flood-prone properties represent about 81% of all the properties in the Miami County seat, raising concerns about insurance rates and economic development in the city, located about 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of Indianapolis.
The study’s findings mean that Peru has Indiana’s highest proportion of properties at risk of flooding, and that it ranks 8th in the state for overall total properties at risk, the Kokomo Tribune reported.
Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said county officials are seeking a proposal from a civil engineering firm to determine if the study’s finding are accurate.
“We want to take it seriously, especially considering the percentage of land the study suggests should be reclassified in some way,” Tidd said. “When you’re talking about that amount of homes, that’s a significant impact in Miami County, whether it’s in Peru or anywhere else.”
If the study’s numbers are valid, the expansion of flood-prone areas in Peru could create a serious hurdle for the construction of new houses and lead to higher insurance costs for some homeowners and businesses.
But Tidd said he questioned some of the study’s numbers because he said Peru hasn’t experienced any serious flooding since the Mississinewa Dam was built nearby in 1967 to control the Wabash River’s water level.
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