Ellicott City businesses without flood insurance weigh repair costs

Businesses owners assess financial damages

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - Two weeks after heavy rain flooded parts of Ellicott City, volunteer efforts to help residents continue. However, it could take a lot more than a helping hand for many to get back on their feet without flood insurance.

Much of Ellicott City may still be covered in mud and debris as the cleanup continues, but what many business owners say they weren't covered with was flood insurance.

Attic Antiques owner Brenda Franz said "last flood, we got zero from the insurance company. We went to the Maryland State Insurance Department to have them look into our policy, and they came back and said you have 'zip, no coverage.' Same thing this time."

Franz said she's only seen two floods in her 29 years in Ellicott City, in 2016 and 2018.

"Now my building is located way up on the hill, my insurance agent told me years ago, you will not need flood insurance, you are high up, they don't come from high up and go down. Well, now they do," Franz said.

Nearby St. Peters Episcopal Church provides basic necessities for flood damage victims, but for those without flood insurance, they're on the hook to cover the cost of the own repairs.

"I know it's a lot. They've already given me estimates which are quite high, in the range of $70,000 plus, which I do not have. I am financially bankrupt because of this flood," Franz said.

While volunteers and donations at St. Peters offer some comfort, a multi-agency disaster assistance center which was to offer guidance, has now closed.

 "We always walked away with feeling like there was nothing that anybody was going to do for us, so we didn't waste our time. This time and I think that's the way a lot of people think, we've got better things to do. I mean, I'm spinning my wheels, and I can't afford to spin my wheels up there anymore," Franz said.

Franz said she might consider taking out a Small Business Administration loan to rebuild, but after two floods in two years, she's not sure it's worth it.

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