Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ellicott City - August 3, 2016

First things first, the topic of insurance has been raised repeatedly over the last three days.  Those outside of town say "I hope they have it" those on Main Street are wondering "Do I have enough?"  Due to safety concerns, business owners and residents have been limited in their ability to access their property, which has ultimately prevented claims adjusters from accessing the property and business owners from receiving payment on their policies.  Of even greater concern is the fact that there are certain remediation efforts that are necessary to prevent a total loss, which are also impossible due to limited access.  I know the County is working as expediently as possible to get this resolved, but for those who are frustrated you should know you are not alone.

Second, for those who thought you had flood insurance, but have since been told otherwise, please see this note from the Howard County Disaster Assistance Page:
The Maryland Insurance Administration will have representatives available to assist Marylanders filing insurance claims as a result of the flooding in Howard County. Consumers can contact the Maryland Insurance Administration at 410-468-2340 or 1-800-492-6116 if they need assistance with property and casualty claims related to the storm.
I will also be looking to pull together a list of insurance coverage attorneys for those who are unable to find relief through the MIA.  If you are denied, make sure to get it in writing.

Third, the Ellicott City Partnership is continuing to fire on all cylinders.  Business owners and residents began picking up clean-up supplies yesterday and even more have been contributed.   Fundraising continues and we will begin looking into additional ways to get those resources out to the community ASAP.  The Needs Assessment online form went up yesterday and we've begun compiling the results.  Business owners should also consult with the Howard County Economic Development Authority, which is performing a needs assessment of its own.

Fourth, the Howard County Council held an emergency session this morning at 8:00 am to provide for the consideration of emergency legislation extending the County Executive's emergency powers past the expiration date of August 6, 2016.  There will be a special public hearing on the emergency legislation this Friday at 8:00 am, which will be followed immediately by a vote.  You can sign up to testify via this link.

Fifth, many of you have asked me questions about GoFundMe pages and how to determine if they are "legitimate".  As a preliminary matter, we should all understand that these are not tax deductible contributions and are intended for private use.  GoFundMe is a great mechanism for helping business owners stuck in between disaster and insurance coverage.  I strongly encourage everyone to support these business owners in their individual efforts (or those of their friends) to get back on their feet.  The best way to determine if it is "legitimate" is to evaluate the relationship between the person who set up the GoFundMe page and the designated recipient.  Did the designated recipient "like" or "share" the page?  Does the description suggest some level of intimacy that may be different from a person off the street?  If you are really concerned, try contacting the business owner directly and asking them if the page is going to benefit them.  BUT if it is a general page intended to help all of Ellicott City and you do not see a nonprofit associated with that page, send your money elsewhere.

Finally, enough time has passed since Saturday that we're now going to hear less about how to help and more about "what went wrong".  Among those opinions is the thought that we should not rebuild.  If you hold that opinion, I would respectfully suggest that you keep it to yourself for at least the next month.  However well intended, it will be not be well received.  And if you're talking about that instead of talking about how to help, your opinion likely doesn't matter much to begin with.