By Aishah Hasnie
MARION COUNTY - Residents of Rocky Ripple are expressing their outrage and fears after learning the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers made a decision to recommend a flood wall that would exclude their homes.
Robert Tomey has lived in his W. 54th street home for 27 years and doesn't plan on going anywhere.
"This is gonna be our forever house," he said. "My wife and I, we want to die here."
There's just one problem: his home overlooks the White River which could flood one day.
That's why he and several of his neighbors have been pleading for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to include them in the Indy North Flood Wall and Levee Project. It's designed to protect 1,500 homes in neighborhoods like Broad Ripple and Warfleigh. The Corp investigated other options and plans, but has now settled on the original plan, which does not include Rocky Ripple.
"They're not going to give us protection. They're not offering us any assistance," said Tomey. "We're done. We're done."
The Corp's stance is that it is simply not feasible to include the neighborhood now. If it did, houses would have to be demolished and the already $14 million dollar project would cost $35 million more, all to protect about 200 extra homes.
"We compete on a national level for those dollars and so this is going to drive that cost ratio down to the point that it will probably never get federal funding,” explained Col. Luke Leonard before a 2012 public hearing on the project. “So it places the whole project from Broad Ripple down to Butler Tarkington in jeopardy for ever getting complete."
In 2012, the City scrapped plans to build a flood wall, because of a public outcry. Now, is worried that won't happen again.
"I've planted my roots here 27 years ago. I wanna be buried back in the backyard by my old dog, but that isn't going to happen," said Tomey. "We're gonna be destroyed."
He said the only option left for Rocky Ripple residents is to pitch in and hire legal help and pursue legal action against the Corp.