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Evansville / Vanderburgh Flood Informatiom


 
DRAINAGE SYSTEM BUILDING RESPONSIBILITY
FLOOD HAZARD NATURAL AND BENEFICIAL FUNCTIONS
FLOOD INSURANCE FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM
BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER FLOOD RIVER AND DAM GAUGES
FLOOD HAZARD

KNOWING YOUR FLOOD HAZARD
The major sources of flooding in the Evansville and Vanderburgh County are the Ohio River and Pigeon Creek and their tributaries. The Ohio River forms 28 miles of the City and County southern border.  Damage from flooding along Pigeon Creek occurs when the Ohio River reaches a stage high enough to back water up Pigeon Creek, or when Pigeon Creek headwater becomes sufficiently high enough to overflow the channel.
The most extensive flood in the history of Evansville took place in January, 1937. Other historic flood crests and benchmark elevations for Evansville are listed below –

BENCHMARKS AND HISTORIC FLOOD CRESTS FOR EVANSVILLE


Depth of Water or Elevation

 

Top of Levee

57.1 ft. or 386.3 msl

January 1937

53.7 ft. or 382.9 msl

April 1913

48.4 ft.

April 1945

48.28 ft.

March 1964

47.72 ft.

April 1997

47.52 ft.

May 2011

46.78 ft

January 1907.

46.2 ft

Current Flood Stage

42.0 ft. or 371.2 msl

Pool Stage

12.8 ft. or 342.0 msl

River Gauge Base Elevation

0.0 ft. or 329.2 msl

              Note: msl = Mean Sea Level
              Sources: National Weather Service; Paducah, KY
                              U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
There are 73 flood events listed in the National Climatic Data Center database for Vanderburgh County between 1993 and 2013, during which the county had received Presidential disaster declarations for flooding in:

  • January/February 2005, (FEMA-1573-DR) – was due to a prolonged period of wet weather following the rapid snowmelt from a record late December snowstorm.
  • July/August 2003, Flash Flooding (FEMA-1476-DR) - Flash flooding of streets occurred in the City of Evansville.
  • March 1997, (FEMA-1165-DR) - Widespread rainfall amounts around 10 inches in the middle Ohio Valley, from around Louisville to Cincinnati, occurred over a one to three day period. This resulted in a massive flood crest that took a few weeks to travel down the Ohio River.
  • April/May 1996, (FEMA-1125-DR) - Over seven inches of rain fell at Evansville in 24 hours.

HISTORICAL PHOTOS OF THE 1937 FLOOD
The Evansville Courier-Press has a excellent map and photos of the 1937 flood in their article: When disaster strikes Life came to halt as 1937 flood hit region:
http://www.courierpress.com/news/2007/jan/07/when-disaster-strikes/
http://web.courierpress.com/flood/floodmap.html
Willard Library has a photo gallery of the 1937 flood:
http://www.willard.lib.in.us/online_resources/photography_gallery_detail.php?ID=10

LEVEE PROTECTION
Following the historic flood event of 1937 on the Ohio River, the City of Evansville, in conjunction with the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, initiated flood protection projects. This involved almost 18 miles of earthen levee, concrete walls, roadway levees and 20 pumping stations. There is also a levee system to help control flooding on Pigeon Creek. These provide protection to the City of Evansville and portions of the unincorporated County from a repetition of the 1937 flood, which had a recurrence interval greater than 500 years. These levees protect portions of Evansville’s flood prone areas to a level 3.4 feet higher than the crest of the 1937 flood.  Although related to flood hazard, levee failure is discussed further in the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.

CURRENT  STITUATION
Many areas of Evansville and Vanderburgh County are within the floodplain of the 100-year or base flood.  A “100-year flood” does not refer to a flood that occurs once every 100 years, but refers to a flood level with a one percent probability of being equaled or exceeded in any given year and  a 500 year event has a 0.2% probability. The Evansville and Vanderburgh County floodplains are illustrated on maps provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The most recent Flood Insurance Study (FIS) for Vanderburgh County unincorporated and incorporated areas has an effective date of March 17, 2011. The FIS and associated Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs) present the adopted floodplains, floodways, and flood profiles for streams in the planning area.  These are available for review in the Public Library reference section, in the Building Commission office, and on-line at:  FILL IN

IDENTIFIED PROBLEM AREAS
The City-County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan discusses approximately 30 chronic flooding areas within Evansville have been identified in the 2007 Stormwater Master Plan Update for the City of Evansville.  The problem areas are categorized as follows:

Neighborhood flooding problems refer primarily to street flooding (primarily in   residential areas) caused by undersized storm sewers and roadside ditches.  

Combined sewer related flooding includes street and property flooding caused by back up of the combined sewer system. Combined sewer problems are a threat to public health due to the potential contamination from sanitary sewage.

Channel cleanout and stream system flooding refers to areas where natural    streams exceed their channel banks or back up at bridges or culverts and flood adjacent property.

Sources:
Comprehensive Plan and Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan

 
 

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