NORTHERN VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Earlier this month, when Joe Hakman went to the Vigo County Area Planning Commission to apply for a building permit for his house, he thought it would be a routine visit.

When it was turned down– he was shocked to find out the reason why.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources recently updated their flood zones around the state, and now a portion of Vigo County is now identified as a flood plain

Impacted property owners are in the purple part of the map shown here. It starts around Emerald Ave. and stretches north to Evans Ave, impacting portions of streets in between.

That includes Hakman, who said he can’t understand why his house would be included. He said his wife Holly has lived in the home around 30 years and hasn’t had issues with flooding.

“We got a basement and it’s never had any issues with water or anything,” he said. “Even back in 2008 when the north end of Terre Haute got flooded real bad, it didn’t even affect us.” 

Hakman and his wife have been working over the past week and a half to contact local legislators– like State Senator Jon Ford.

Ford detailed some of the ways this affects homeowners.

“One, they can’t remodel. Two, they are going to have to buy flood plain insurance,” he said. “I’m just kind of appalled that the county’s elected officials were unaware of this, and that the state didn’t do our part to notify them.”

Hakman said he hopes to have the new maps revoked. Ford mentioned Senate Bill 242– a bill currently moving through the Indiana House of Representatives– as one that looks to change the process of updating these maps.

“I think DNR should come in and do public meetings, and we should have a discussion about this topic. Not satellite views from some office in a different out of state group, but we should come on location and take a look at these and make sure the data is right before we implement,” Ford said.

Holly Lawson with the DNR office offered some details on how they make the maps, saying they work alongside the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Following substantial statewide flooding in 2008, DNR was commissioned by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs at the request of local communities to develop and publish updated maps that expanded upon FEMA mapping to reflect flood-prone areas more comprehensively across the entire state, filling in gaps from the federally developed maps,” she said in an e-mail response.

Lawson said they have heard from Vigo administrators– and they had officials in the area on Tuesday to evaluate the maps.

“Earlier this year, Vigo County floodplain administrators reached out to DNR to request a review to assess whether local maps accurately reflect flood risk,” she said. “Based on feedback received from Vigo County leaders, DNR officials are in Vigo County [Tuesday] to assess any potential updates needed for the local maps.”

Hakman said he wants changes to be made soon– to ease the burden on people like him.

“Unfortunately, it will decrease the property value of your property and it’s affecting probably over 100 something houses in northern Vigo County,” he said.