Map changes could mean costlier insurance in Franklin

Hundreds of homes and businesses in a central Indiana city hit hard by flash flooding seven years ago could face hefty jumps in their insurance costs if updated federal flood plain maps are approved.

About 70 percent of Franklin's industrial areas are included in the immediate danger zone of a 100-year flood under maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, city engineer Travis Underhill said.

"It was easier to count who wasn't included," he told the Daily Journal.

The city has hired an engineering firm to review the maps as it considers an appeal. Underhill said many of the changes come from the new flood plain maps including the Canary Ditch waterway, which runs through north and west sides of the city about 20 miles south of Indianapolis.

"The level of impact, if we accepted the proposal, was substantial enough that we would have to do some research," Underhill said.

The changes could cause flood insurances rates for businesses to go up 10 to 15 percent during the next 10 years, said John Auld, president of Franklin Insurance Agency.

Several neighborhoods would be designated as in the flood plain if the new maps are approved, forcing many homeowners to buy flood insurance that Auld said could cost $1,500 a year or more.

Underhill says businesses considering projects in areas designated as flooding hazards could face additional costs of building up higher elevations.

Franklin was among several communities in central and southern Indiana hit by flash flooding in June 2008 caused by storms that dumped up to 10 inches of rain on saturated soils. Johnson County sustained $180 million in estimated damages. The flooding ruined several hundred homes and businesses in Franklin and swamped much of its downtown.

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