Schaefer calls for aid for flood victims

Comptroller says state could do more to assist residents with claims

March 23, 2004|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

After touring the flood-damaged neighborhoods of Edgemere and Millers Island yesterday, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer said state government should do more to assist Tropical Storm Isabel victims.

Schaefer, who was briefed on the continuing difficulties of Isabel victims in a lunch meeting with Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. this month, spoke with east-side community activists and flood victims about the problems many have experienced in settling their insurance claims.

"I'll go down and see the governor and see what we can do," Schaefer said.

This week marks a period of intense scrutiny of the National Flood Insurance Program and the performance of insurance companies in the aftermath of the storm.

State Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr. has scheduled meetings for tonight in Annapolis between a dozen Isabel victims and NFIP Director Anthony S. Lowe.

Redmer recently gave Lowe 80 complaint files about flood insurance.

Lowe agreed to consider changes to the federal flood insurance program and to adjust individual claims from Isabel if adjusters made errors.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Economic Policy is scheduled to hold a hearing on the NFIP, which is subject to periodic reauthorization by Congress.

The meeting was scheduled for March 11 but was postponed amid federal budget debates.

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes sits on the committee, and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is one of the scheduled witnesses.

Also on Thursday, Lowe has scheduled a summit meeting in Virginia with insurance carriers and state regulators from the Mid-Atlantic to discuss possible changes to the federal flood insurance program.

Bernice Myer, a Millers Island resident who founded an advocacy group for Isabel victims, said she has been invited to the meeting with Lowe tonight and to the summit.

After a six-month struggle with her insurance claim, Myer said she's not optimistic, despite the action scheduled on the federal level.

"I'm just worried they're going to tell me it's all a state problem," she said.

"We just keep getting bounced back and forth like a pingpong ball."

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