For residents of a flood-damaged East Baltimore neighborhood, an anxious wait continued yesterday as lawyers delayed deciding whether the city will pay for their losses.
City Solicitor Otho M. Thompson put off discussions to determine whether the city is responsible for a May 10 pipe break that damaged dozens of row homes, including 15 that had to be demolished. Thompson said his office was sidetracked by the budget proposed Monday night by the City Council.
"We're looking at the causes, but at this point in time, my attention has been diverted to dealing with the budget," he said.
State assistance is available for renters and homeowners rebuilding damaged properties. But Brian Prince, a spokesman for the state Department of Housing and Community Development, said no similar aid exists for homeowners whose properties had to be razed. Their loss, he said, "comes down to a question of insurance."
Many residents were uninsured or had limited homeowners insurance for fire and theft.
State Farm Insurance Co. has paid for damage to the contents of homes under policy provisions that cover "domestic pipe breaks." However, State Farm said its policies do not cover "earth movement," and would not cover damage to foundations eroded by rushing water. No State Farm clients lost their homes.
Allstate Insurance Co. denied seven claims of residents, saying the damage is covered only under federal flood insurance, which the property owners do not have.
If the property owners had been covered by flood insurance -- rare in the inner city -- their claims would have been honored, a Federal Insurance Administration official said yesterday.
Flood insurance covers damage from a water main break, if water from the pipe reaches the surface and affects at least 2 acres or two properties, said Timothy Johnson, a senior claims officer with the administration.
However, Johnson said, the damage is not covered by federal flood insurance if water floods basements and does not reach the surface. Federal flood insurance also covers erosion caused by water and would pay to repair or replace a home with a damaged foundation, he said.
Pub Date: 6/11/97