Indianapolis pays out $78,000 in claims for 2012 Broad Ripple flooding

High water from heavy rain - and a city error - filled streets and soaked shops and restaurants.

A flash flood raced through Broad Ripple Village one year ago. High water from heavy rain - and a city error - filled streets and soaked shops and restaurants.

The city is still paying for that mistake. So far, it's paid out $78,000 even though it's still not sure who's exactly to blame.

During a heavy rain May 1, 2012, the water along Westfield Boulevard and several adjoining streets rose quickly, bubbling up from the storm sewers and catching everyone by surprise.

At the time, boutique owner Brandi Johnson said, "I looked up and there was three feet of water coming through the door."

It took some businesses several days to dry out and weeks to fix the damage. For Petite Chou on Westfield Boulevard, it would take far longer. The day after the flooding, Martha Hoover stood outside her restaurant telling customers, "We're closed because of the flood. We had a devastating flood. It was terrible."

The city discovered flood gates along the White River usually open, were closed, backing storm water into the streets.

Three weeks later, Public Works Director Lori Miser told reporters, "We're not sure tampering is the best word but yes, someone else opened and closed those gates."

Miser said crews discovered the gates had been opened and closed several times between January and April, even though the gates are locked and access restricted.

A year later the city still doesn't know who closed those gates, but a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works said they've since improved security. All flood gates are now inspected quarterly and there are more restrictions on who can access them.

Since last May, the city has also settled several claims. Larry Marling, who owns Bogie's Barbershop, received $8,000 in damages from the city.

"It's all cleared up. My attorney took care of it with the city, so I'm happy that it turned out," said Marling.

Documents from city legal show nine businesses filed claims, with seven settlements, so far, totaling nearly $78,000. The two pending claims are Mediterra restaurant which asked for $19,000 in damages and Petite Chou which asked for nearly $645,000.

Petite Chou had to be gutted and rebuilt. It was closed for eight months. Owner Martha Hoover said while her insurance company was the one negotiating with the city, the losses were "significantly higher" than $645,000. She said during that eight months she kept her employees on the payroll. She said she also lost considerable revenue while her restaurant was closed.

Still Hoover said she's not upset with the city. "It wasn't intentional. Mistakes happen," she said.

Mike Yount, who owns Flatwater across the street, said he too didn't harbor any ill will. His insurance company recently settled for nearly $23,000.

But he also said he worries a bit when a storm moves in .

"Every time it rains we watch the drains to make sure water's going down and not coming up them," Yount said. "Your heart skips a beat when the sky starts to get ominous looking. It does bring back memories of that day and how helpless you are when the water starts to rise."

Asked about the settlements, mayoral spokesman Marc Lotter said they couldn't comment as several were "still pending."