Cabin Owners Along East Fork of White River Now Have Hope

(MARTIN CO.) – A group of cabin owners along the East Fork of the White River in Shoals said the Indiana Department of Natural Resources gave them letters demanding that they vacate and destroy their homes.

But on Wednesday they received word that there may still be hope.

Adam Greene, a Loogootee resident, is one of many who owns a cabin along the river. Some, such as himself, rent them out to others. Some just visit when the weather’s nice. A few live there full-time.

An estimated 20 residents received letters demanding that they leave their property. They must also demolish their homes and will receive no compensation.

The letter delivered in February 2017 states that the homes were in violation of flood regulations. The Flood Control Act (Indiana code 14-28-1) requires approval from the DNR to have a structure such as his cabin in a floodway.

After receiving the letters Senator Eric Bassler got involved.

Senator Eric Bassler

Bassler says, “That’s when Representative Shane Lindauer and I started to go to work to see what we could do from a state legislature perspective.”

Representative Shane Lindauer

“Bill 433 simply telling the DNR that they need to apply for any possible federal grants maybe through FEMA or maybe look at possible state programs or even non-profit organizations that would help reimburse these homeowners for the taking down of their own homes,” said Sen. Bassler.

Senate Bill 433 passed 48 to 1 in the Senate.

On Monday that bill looked to die in House committee after Representative Sean Eberhart said he did not intend to bring the bill to a vote in the House. But on Wednesday afternoon the bill was heard in the committee of natural resources and was passed. 

The new bill allows owners to have two years to get up to code.

“It grandfathers in every location, every structure, that was in existence prior to January first of this year,” Bassler says. “There is still a long way to g. We’ve got to keep that in mind and not get too excited yet. I’m obviously more optimistic today than I was 24 hours ago.”