The Planning Department has responsibility for 3 aspects of managing flood hazards in Columbus and Bartholomew County: (1) administration of floodplain regulations for new development, (2) participation in flood emergency preparedness, and (3) participation in flood risk management. Each of these components of also involves coordination with a variety of federal, State, and local agencies including FEMA, IDNR, the Columbus City Engineer's Office, the Columbus Fire Department, and the Barhtolomew County Emergency Management Agency.
Bartholomew County lies at the point where several regionally signifcant streams come together to form the East Fork of the White River. Approximatley 2,000 square miles of upstream land drains through Columbus and Bartholomew County, making flooding the most significant natural threat to the area.
The basis for floodplain regulation in Columbus and Bartholomew County is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is a voluntary program that makes available flood insurance to local property owners that is backed by the federal government and therefore available at a below-market rate. This program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Those agencies are responsible for creating flood hazard area maps and establishing minimum regulations for development in floodplains that participating local communities are obligated to enforce. Local communities can adopt regulations that are more restrictive than the FEMA and IDNR minimum requirements. Both Columbus and Bartholomew County have adopted more restrictive local floodplain regulations. Therefore, both jurisdictions are also eligible to participate in FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS) which further discounts the flood insurance rates for local property owners as a reward for increased vigilance on the part of the community.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Columbus & Bartholomew County Floodplain Regulations:
Zoning Ordinance Chapter 4.7 (Flood Hazard Overlay Zoning District) (PDF)
Flood Hazard Area Maps
These Flood Hazard Area Maps for the City of Columbus and Bartholomew County are provided for reference purposes. Please contact the Planning Department at 812.376.2550 for specific flood hazard determinations. All highlighted links are PDF documents. Important Note: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources have recently completed an updated preliminary Flood Insurance Study (FIS) and its accompanying Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for all of Bartholomew County (including Columbus). The preliminary maps may be viewed at: http://www.floodmaps.in.gov/ (you may experience a long download time). These preliminary maps are not yet in official use but are intended as eventual replacements for the current maps.
Columbus FEMA Flood Hazard Area Maps - Index
Columbus Supplemental Haw Creek Flood Hazard Area Maps
Bartholomew County FEMA Flood Hazard Area Maps - Index
The Flood Response & Evacuation Plan (FREP) has been developed as a resource for the City of Columbus and the Bartholomew County Emergency Management Agency. It provides the necessary tools for forecasting the timing and severity of flooding; providing flood warnings to the community; identifying evacuation areas, gathering places, and shelters; pre-positioning emergency repsonse personnel and equipment; and recovering after flooding has subsided.
Flood Response & Evacuation Plan
Exhibit 1 - 10-year Flood Impacts
Exhibit 2 - 50-year Flood Impacts
Exhibit 3 - 100-year Flood Impacts
Exhibit 4 - 500-year Flood Impacts
Exhibit 5 - Flood-safe Routes
USGS Stream Gages
The United States Geological Survey has stream gages located in or near Bartholomew County that provide current river and stream conditions. This information is provided to the National Weather Service to provide current conditions for the all the listed rivers and streams and to provide flood forecast information for the Driftwood River and the East Fork of White River. Below are the links to the Stream Gages for the river and stream information.
The City of Columbus is located at the point where several significant streams converge to form the East Fork of the White River. These streams - Flatrock River, Driftwood River, Clifty Creek, and Haw Creek - drain an area of approximately 2,000 square miles through Columbus. As a result of this large drainage area approximately 1/3 of the Columbus area is in a floodplain. The Columbus Flood Risk Management Plan was completed in June of 2013 and is intended to address all aspects of the flooding risk in the community. The Plan assess the threat from the local streams, provides the background information for the Flood Response & Evacuation Plan (see above), evaluates opportunities to mitigate flooding risks for specific streets and neighborhoods, and identifies regulatory actions that could prevent the flooding risk from become worse. The Columbus Flood Risk Management Plan was recognized with the 2013 Excellence in Floodplain Management award from the Indiana Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management (INAFSM).
Exhibits 1-4 - Flatrock, Driftwood & White River Depth Mapping
Exhibits 5 & 6 - White River Road Crossing Depth Mapping
Exhibits 7-9 - Flatrock River Road Crossing Depth Mapping
Exhibits 10-13 - Haw Creek Depth Mapping
Exhibits 14-18 - Clifty Creek Depth Mapping
Exhibits 19-25 - Denois Creek Depth Mapping
Exhibits 26-30 - White Creek Tributary Depth Mapping
Exhibits 31-33 - Big Slough Depth Mapping
Exhibit 34 - Catherine Creek Depth Mapping
Exhibit 35 - Ensley Ditch Depth Mapping
Exhibits 36-38 - Wolf Creek Depth Mapping
Exhibit 39 - Dam Inundation Areas Mapping
Exhibit 40 - Floodprone Areas Mapping
Exhibit 41 - Most Promising Mitigation Project Mapping
Appendix 1 - FIS Review Details
Appendix 2 - Forecast Tool Descriptions
Appendix 3 - Critical Rainfall Data
Appendix 4 - High Water Mark Form
Appendix 5 - Considered Mitigation Options
Appendix 6 - Possible Mitigation Options
Appendix 7 - Mitigation Project Cost Estimates
Appendix 8 - Floodproofing / Buyout Prioritization
Appendix 9 - Stream Modeling Outputs (Appendix 9 exceeds the website file size limits, please contact the Planning Department to view this information)
Appendix 10 - Education Materials
Haw Creek Flood Damage Reduction Project
(US Army Corps of Engineers - 2013)
Following the flood of June 7, 2008 the City of Columbus applied for technical assistance from the US Army Corps of Engineers. That request was approved in 2012 and shortly thereafter the Corps began a study of flooding on Haw Creek. Specifically, the Corps sought to identify a project or projects that would reduce the flooding risks to properties along this stream. The Corps studied several options, including both those that their engineers identified and others at the request of the City. However, none of the studied options resulted in significant reductions in flooding. The complete Corps study and supporting maps are found below.
Flood Risk Management Plan - Detailed Haw Creek Mitigation Study
(Christopher B. Burke Engineering - 2013)
As part of the Columbus Flood Risk Management Plan process the project consultants, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, conducted a series of detailed studies on Haw Creek. These studies modeled the results of (1) expanding the opening provided for Haw Creek beneath the Louisville & Indiana Railroad bridge south of 2nd Street, (2) removing all bridges from the stream through the City of Columbus, (3) clearing debris from the channel and vegetation from the stream banks, and (4) dredging a larger channel. None of the studied options resulted in significant reductions in flooding. Mapping of the results of each option are found below.