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MD flood survivors face uncertainty

Many residents do not have insurance or have woefully inadequate insurance.

BY ZACHARY HOFFMAN | DUNDALK, MD | October 5, 2009

Two weeks after a water main damaged 100 homes in this Baltimore suburb, residents are still cleaning up their basements and questioning how they will pay for the damages.

“I’m still cleaning up,” said Andrea Dent. “We still have stuff in the yard that needs to be cleared. They have dried out the basement but we have to find our own contractors to rebuild.”

There were really three groups of people affected by the flooding; those who had insurance but it was inadequate to cover all of the damage, those who did not have insurance or were renting and did not have renter’s insurance, and those who had homeowners insurance that did not cover the event, according to Deputy Commissioner Karen Hornig.

“In some cases they did have insurance but their policy limits weren’t able to cover the amount of damage; they may have a $10,000 policy but $40,000 in damages,” said Hornig. “Unfortunately, there were some people who didn’t have insurance.”

Dent and her family were part of the group that had insurance, but their insurance policy was not large enough to pay for all of their losses.

“I’ve been told (our furnace) is going to cost $15,000 to replace, I don’t know where that money is going to come from,” said Dent. “Insurance is going to cover some things; it’s not going to cover $15,000 for a furnace.”

Dent is concerned that there will be no heat when the temperatures drop. Dent and her husband Peter have six children, including a set of twins less than two-years old.

The Commissioners Office with the Maryland Insurance Administration and other governmental agencies hope to take advantage of the small size of the disaster to pull together and provide assistance to individuals who had gaps in coverage and no coverage.

“For those people affected it was a terrible occurrence, but the fact that it was small gives us in public service a wonderful opportunity to work together and address each individual person’s needs and concerns,” said Hornig.

“It provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase government at its best,” she said.

Dent has filled out an application to receive assistance from local governmental agencies, but she has not heard back from them yet.

Dent said, “I hope it (assistance) comes sooner rather than later.”

On September 21, a six-foot water main burst in the suburb of Baltimore, Maryland, filling the streets across a three square mile area with several feet of water. The flooding damaged 100 homes, filling basements with six feet of water in some cases.

The huge water pipe ruptured around 4 p.m. and for more than two hours pumped thousands of gallons of water into the nearby neighborhoods.

Some residents had to be rescued by boat and more were delayed from returning home from work until late into the night.


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