Sessions give tips on storm claims

State discusses flooding, insurance with residents of Harford, Cecil counties

July 18, 2004|By Artika Rangan | Artika Rangan,SUN STAFF

Dozens of residents from Harford and Cecil counties attended seminars sponsored by the Maryland Insurance Administration last week to discuss claims caused by Monday's storm.

The conferences were held in Port Deposit, Havre de Grace, Aberdeen and Perryville. Seminars run between noon and 7 p.m. tomorrow and Tuesday at Town Hall in North East.

Donna Barr, 56, of Port Deposit said she suffered serious property damage. The first floor of her house was covered in water more than 6 inches deep. A log came into her house and smashed a cabinet, she said.

Like many residents, Barr does not have flood insurance.

State Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr. met with many residents who attended sessions to advise them about their alternatives.

"We're just trying to help them through this devastating experience," he said.

Redmer and other representatives from the insurance administration advised people to attend the meetings with a copy of their insurance policy and documentation of the damage they sustained, such as photographs or videos.

"Their first step should be to contact their insurance broker," he said, "but we can help review their policy, answer their questions and get them in touch with the right people."

Redmer said the property damage he has heard about ranges from basement flooding to trees that have knocked off a corner of a house.

The common denominator among many, however, is a lack of flood insurance, he said.

"This whole thing is reminiscent of [Tropical Storm] Isabel," Redmer said. "You wake up one morning and say, `What do I do?' "

At the seminars, insurance administration officials try to refer residents to other state agencies, charities and nonprofit organizations for help, Redmer said.

Barry Gray, 53, of Port Deposit called the damage he incurred "minimal" when compared with other people's losses.

Gray's house was built near a dam constructed of granite blocks. During the storm, a tree knocked out the dam, and water has since been eating away at his property.

"I've lost about 4 feet of my back yard," he said, "but my living space was not in danger."

Bonnie Perkins, 39, also of Port Deposit experienced flooding in her home.

"The pump couldn't hold the water," she said, "and now me and my family ---- all seven of us ---- are in one room at the Comfort Inn."

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