Thousands impacted by new FEMA flood district maps

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 11, 2016) - City County Council members voted Wednesday to approve new flood districts drawn by FEMA. This move will take thousands of properties out of existing districts, and put thousands into new ones.

Not only are these changes forcing hundreds of homeowners to pay for flood insurance. For some, it’s forcing them to do much more.

“I put my time in the military during Vietnam and now look what they’re doing to me,” said Russ Hilterbrand.

Hilterbrand poured $150,000 into his Mars Hill home, with the addition of a master bedroom and garage. It will only take $25,000 to tear it all down.

“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s never flooded; it’s never had a drop of water in it,” said Hilterbrand.

Hilterbrand’s home falls in a newly-drawn flood zone. He built his addition years ago, but now city officials say he has to raise his addition four feet off the ground or tear the entire thing down.

Hilterbrand is fighting FEMA in court but says he’ll likely tear down the addition and move because he does not want to pay for mandatory, FEMA-required flood insurance.

“It’s going to break these people. This man on the corner is getting ready to move because he can’t afford it,” he said.

Not only in the seven years that the Hilterbrands have owned their home has it never flooded, but at the end of their block, the flood district ends.

FEMA updates affect more than 7,000 properties throughout Marion County. 4,000 properties have now been removed from a flood district. But nearly 3,000 have now been added.

If the city does not comply with FEMA’s updated requests, the city could lose out on any assistance from the federal government in the event of a natural disaster.

“For there not to be that requirement puts the entire county at risk for not being able to obtain federal funding in the event of a natural disaster,” said Jason Larrison, the Director of the Marion County Department of Code Enforcement.

Putting the burden now on homeowners like Hilterbrand to pay for mandatory flood insurance, running around $1,000 a year.

“People here can’t afford $1,000 a year, there’s just no way. They’re lucky to be able to have a home,” said Hilterbrand.

FEMA will be contacting impacted homeowners and mortgage companies to let them know when they have to purchase their flood insurance by. The Hilterbrands will have their first court appearance fighting FEMA in May.