After a record-breaking rainfall, residents in South Bend, Indiana now have to deal with costly and time-consuming government red tape to rebuild homes and businesses – making them victims of both nature and the State.
Before Hoosiers can pick up the pieces by reconstructing their property, the City of South Bend is forcing them to pick up a building permit.
According to a media release from the South Bend/St. Joseph County Building Department:
“Repairs and/or construction activities to structures that are located in the floodplain and were damaged due to the disaster will require a local building permit from the South Bend/St. Joseph County Building Department as required by local ordinance.”
Worse, “In addition, depending on a property’s location, a permit may be required from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources prior to the start of any reconstruction activity. Failure to obtain the necessary permits could result in fines.”
On Monday, the South Bend area received “its highest rainfall total for a single calendar day since records began,” the Weather Channel reported, officially 7.69 inches of rain, which broke the previous record set in September 2008 by a full inc.
“In one day,” meteorologist Jim Erdman noted, “the city received more than twice its average rainfall for the entire month of August, which is 3.76 inches.”
When including rainfall that continued into Tuesday morning, that total climbed to 8.49 inches – the water inundated local storm drains and paralyzed any ability to alleviate the floods.
— Margaret Fosmoe (@MFosmoe) August 17, 2016
“Many of the toughest days are actually in the days to come because it’s going to take a very long time for some of this water to go away,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said. “In the days coming ahead frustration is going to set in.”
“People need to understand this is a thousand-year rain event. With the amount of water in some roadways and in some basements, it’s not an amount of water that can be removed by a pump or a truck or draining operation. You just have to wait for it to recede.”
Traumatized residents trying to contend with expensive and horrific damage – one reported eight feet of water in his basement – now also have to cope with the burden of overbearing state bureaucracy, not to mention penalties for failing to comply.
Although such an unprecedented rainfall would be expected to overflow city storm drains and sewers by its nature, one business blames the State for damage incurred.
Chris David, manager of Around the Corner Auto Service, said construction work on a nearby highway bypass left the closest storm drain cordoned off by a fence in the shops backyard – which, when record-breaking rains began to fall, acted as a dam for debris, leaving water nowhere to go but inside.
David and three employees have been working nonstop to clean the damage, but he faces a hard road ahead to reopen the shop’s doors. As he told local CBS affiliate WSBT:
“Insurance is not going to cover it because they think it was the fault of the state, not the fault of ours.”
Total estimated damage to his store has already climbing to a whopping $120,000.
Should any reconstruction be necessary, of course, David would also be forced to obtain what amounts to the State’s permission slip – to repair damage the State haphazardly caused in the first place.
But the Indiana Department of Transportation disagrees with David and his insurance company, placing blame for his woes solely on the rainfall, itself.
Despite David’s description of the dam effect the fence caused during the torrential rainfall, Moats claims the storm drain would have overflowed regardless.
“Utilizing that fence as an excuse as to why that there was additionally flooding there is maybe convenient,” he said. “But to be completely honest, it was the fact that we got 8 to 10 inches in a short amount of time.”
Our Photographer Eric got swept away in the floods last night. Hear his story tonight. pic.twitter.com/i3qeHFI2ln
— Shaun Gallagher (@ShaunGalWNDU) August 16, 2016
Both fortunately and surprisingly, no injuries or deaths were reported as having resulted from the flooding.
Damage to properties is extensive – two homes collapsed after being inundated – forcing those who can and can’t afford to rebuild into a sudden scramble to file insurance claims and building permits in order to avoid the expense of state-imposed fines.
it would be difficult to justice this kind of red tape after such a tragedy – nevertheless, the government didn’t even seem to be apologetic for its imposition on the residents of South Bend.