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Nonprofit group offering flood relief aid as county road work continues in Catonsville, Oella

With the passage of some time since the May 27 flooding devastated parts of the region, its impact on the Catonsville area is coming into sharper focus.

Crews from the Baltimore County Department of Public Works and various local fire stations ended up pumping water and sewage out of more than 400 basements. Crews also hauled some 434 truckloads of debris from 780 addresses to the Western Acceptance Facility in Halethorpe for transfer to a waste management station.

And, maintenance crews worked to repair and reopen roads that were hard hit by the storm, although three roads in the Catonsville/Oella area remain closed.

Old Frederick Road reopened June 9. The River Road bridge is still closed, and a contractor is on site working on a demolition project to take down the damaged bridge, which should be completed by the end of June.

Westchester Avenue is closed for ongoing storm drain repairs, with the work expected to be completed in two weeks, said Lauren Watley, a county spokeswoman.

The southern part of Thistle Road is considered a “major project” and does not have a timetable for reopening. “Extensive slope failures” are compromising road safety, Watley said.

Residential access is continuing for the northern part of the road, as foundation repairs continue on a concrete culvert near Clay Lodge Lane.

County help

Baltimore County officials said they assisted about 200 people at a storm recovery information center that operated for three days early in June at the Catonsville Senior Center. Representatives from different government agencies and nonprofit organizations were on site to help with insurance claims and other concerns.

Catonsville residents Dan and Kay Broadwater, who own the only home in the county that was deemed uninhabitable because of storm damage, said that, as of June 12, some electrical work and a final inspection had not been completed. The inspection is required to deem the house safe for habitation.

A basement wall in their home was blown out by a deluge of water that overwhelmed a storm drain and washed down their driveway. That wall has been shored up and reinforced. The Broadwaters said their hot water was just now turned back on, three weeks after the disaster.

“We’re already sort of worn out,” Kay Broadwater said of the many tasks that they couple have had to handle.

Dan Broadwater said he still was not satisfied that their homeowner’s insurance carrier, USAA, would be of help, because the Broadwaters do not have a separate flood insurance policy. But Kay said the damage wasn’t her main worry at this point.

“I’m real happy that we’re putting the house back together,” she said. “But I’m more concerned about it happening again. I want to be preventative.”

Ongoing resources

Residents who still need assistance in recovery, or who have had insurance woes, have avenues for help even though the scheduled county work has mostly ceased.

The Maryland Insurance Administration, headquartered in downtown Baltimore, is a resource to help residents who have had issues with their private insurers.

“We just want folks to know that if they are concerned they’re being denied arbitrarily, [or] an adjustor has not come out or what have you, they have the opportunity to come to us and seek a second opinion and assistance,” Maryland Insurance Administration Commissioner Al Redmer Jr. said.

Depending on their individual insurance policies, homeowners could, in fact, be covered for damage that was caused by internal water or sewage backups, even lacking flood insurance, Redmer said.

Joe Sviatko III, public affairs officer for the Maryland Insurance Administration, said 18 consumers in Baltimore County have filed complaints with the state agency about their insurance.

He said consumers seeking recourse or with questions can call e agency is to call 800-492-6116 or go to www.insurance.maryland.gov.

For those who need physical assistance — be it digging muck and mud out of the basement, power washing, removing debris, remediating mold or for demolition — Baltimore County officials recommend contacting Maryland Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), a network of nonprofit organizations that provide different flood-relief services.

Sharon Tillman, communications coordinator for VOAD, said the group currently has a flood hotline that will operate through June 22. The hotline number is 410-449-5415.

“If somebody is in need, if they’re uninsured, underinsured, if they can’t get rid of the debris, the muck, on their own, they’re invited to add their name and property to the list,” Tillman said. “We just ask that people be patient, because it was a very widespread disaster.” VOAD members do not charge for their services to residents and do not solicit donations.

Residents can also call the hotline seeking services such as food or clothing, and for registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Rev. Phillip C. Huber, chair of Maryland VOAD, said the group also could be involved with more long-term repair work in Baltimore County.

“Based on the need, certainly, we have that capacity,” Huber said. “If that is the need of people in the affected areas, then we will try to find a way to do that.”

But, he added, any repair work in the county would require a determination of the scope of the need and how much of the repair residents could afford to do on their own.

Tillman said 31 cases have been reported to the network in Baltimore County, and 16 cleanup projects have been completed. In Baltimore City, which also experienced flooding, 52 out of 121 cleanup calls have been completed.

Baltimore County officials say residents should be wary of scammers who are looking to take advantage of storm victims. County police said they were not aware of any reported scam calls related to the storm.

cboteler@baltsun.com

twitter.com/codyboteler

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