Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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July 10, 2013

Flood relief off the table for homeowners


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — On Wednesday, officials from F.E.M.A., Homeland Security and the state S.B.A. visited about 30 water-damaged properties on a list kept by the city. The list included a couple dozen homes and a handful of commercial properties: Metal Cladding, the YWCA of Niagara, the American Legion hall and Widewaters Drive-In restaurant, which was condemned by the city last week due to mold infestation and weakening of the structure.

Restaurant co-owner Marty Oliveri, who met with an S.B.A. representative, said that agency's loan program "would help tremendously" as he works to rehabilitate or rebuild the more-than-50-year-old seasonal business. Also, he's been assured by both U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and state Sen. George Maziarz that grants are out there from places other than F.E.M.A. and he can count on their help trying to landing one.

"We're not looking for handouts (but) if there was something out there for signage, or related to us being on the canal, every little bit would help," Oliveri said. "Whether the government can assist us or not, we will be back. We just have to figure out our next move."

Widewaters' property insurer will not cover losses caused by sewage flow through the building, Oliveri said.

Tucker said he's heard from various homeowners that a few property insurers are "playing games" with them regarding whether their losses are covered or not. Flood losses are not covered in homeowners' policies but riders are readily available to protect against specific water-related incidents, such as a sewer backup or sump pump failure. Where homeowners are citing a sewer backup, some insurers are saying the damage was caused by flooding and therefore isn't covered.

Tucker said he has asked Maziarz, and the senator has agreed, to contact the state insurance commissioner and "shake things up a bit." Insurers doing business in New York are regulated by the state insurance department.

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