Public comment sought regarding Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief grant awards

On July 29, 2014, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs announced three awards for the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grants for Historic Properties program and is seeking public comment on its finding that the selected projects will not adversely affect historic properties.

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast of the United States.
Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast of the United States.

The grant program is funded under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in response to the effects of the destructive hurricane which struck the East Coast of the United States in late October 2012. As part of the act, $50 million was appropriated to the National Park Service to cover the costs of preserving and/or rehabilitating historic properties damaged by the storm. Subsequently, the National Park Service allocated $1 million for Delaware’s component of the program which is being administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The purpose of the program is to help return damaged historic properties to useful condition, preserving the state’s cultural heritage for future generations.

The division publicly announced the availability of the grants and posted information on the program in January 2014. To qualify, properties were required to be listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places, and have documented damage that resulted from the effects of the storm. Eligible properties included those owned by private individuals or organizations, local governments, or the state.

The division received three applications. A technical-review committee found that all three of the applications qualified for funding according to the selection criteria and application requirements. Because the currently approved applications did not exhaust the full amount of funds awarded to Delaware, the division may elect to hold another round of grant applications. Additionally, in accordance with its agreement with the National Park Service, the division plans to apply some of the remaining funds toward improving data on the location and nature of historic properties in areas vulnerable to such storm events, assisting in disaster planning.

The three historic properties that will be assisted by the program are as follows:

Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse
Location: Situated on the outer breakwater in Lewes harbor
Built: 1926
Historical significance: Listed in the National Register in 1989 as a contributing structure within the National Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater Harbor Historic District, a nationally significant aid-to-navigation and safe harbor
Ownership: Non-profit
Storm damage: Results of wind-driven water and waves
Federal grant: Up to $360,000
Scope of work: Replacement of dock and stairs leading to lighthouse; assessment of condition of lighthouse Historic-preservation outcome: The grant-funded work will define the critical preservation work necessary to maintain and preserve the lighthouse, and will restore proper access to allow such work to occur and to further the organization’s public interpretation and educational programming

Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse with intact dock.
Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse with intact dock.

Storm-damaged dock at the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse.
Storm-damaged dock at the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse.

Milford New Century Club
Location: 18 N. Church St., Milford
Built: 1885
Historical significance: Individually listed in the National Register in 1982 as part of a multiple-property nomination for the city of Milford, the building is significant for its architecture and as a long-standing community center, a purpose it still serves
Ownership: Non-profit
Storm damage: Results of high wind, wind-driven rain and rising water
Federal grant: Up to $60,000
Scope of work: Replacement of roof and associated interior and exterior repairs; exterior painting and associated repairs; replacement of HVAC system
Historic-preservation outcome: The grant-funded work will secure the building’s exterior to prevent further damage and deterioration, and will allow the building to again be used year-round for the organization’s civic projects and rental for local events

Milford New Century Club after Hurricane Sandy.
Milford New Century Club after Hurricane Sandy.

Phillips Potato House
Location:
7472 Portsville Road, Laurel
Built: Circa 1900
Historical significance: Individually listed in the National Register in 1990 as part of a multiple-property nomination for sweet potato houses, a specialized agricultural outbuilding in Sussex County. The potato houses reflect the modernization of agricultural practices in southern Delaware during the first half of the 20th century including the emergence of truck farming
Ownership: Private
Storm damage: Results of high wind, wind-driven rain and water run-off
Federal grant: Up to $42,000
Scope of work: Removal of damaged asphalt siding and repair of wood siding and trim; window repair; removal of metal roofing and restoration of wood shingles; foundation repairs
Historic-preservation outcome: The grant-funded work will secure the building’s exterior to prevent further damage and deterioration, and provide an opportunity for returning the building to agricultural use and/or for an adaptive reuse to include public interpretation of agricultural practices

Phillips Potato House after Hurricane Sandy.
Phillips Potato House after Hurricane Sandy.

In order to receive funding, the grantees must ensure that the repair work is consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, and must maintain and preserve the properties for a period of time thereafter. Grantees must also document that consulting and contractual services have been open to competitive bidding and selected in accordance with state and federal law. Grantees must also comply with a number of other reporting requirements to demonstrate that the project is properly carried out. These commitments are documented in a grant agreement that is signed by the division and the grantee.

The division has received the National Park Service’s approval to award these three grants on the condition that all program requirements are being met including compliance with federal historic preservation and environmental laws. Because the program is federally-funded, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that the projects’ effects on historic properties are taken into account. Section 106 also affords local governments, interested parties and the public the opportunity to comment on the projects. For more information on this law and the public’s role in the review process, go to the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s publication, “Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review.”

To fulfill its Section 106 responsibilities, the National Park Service has negotiated a programmatic agreement with the 12 states affected by Hurricane Sandy. This agreement will govern the project-review process for the states’ grant programs, including provisions for public notification and involvement in the program. The agreement also prohibits use of the funds for work that would adversely affect historic properties.

The division finds that the projects will not adversely affect historic properties because:

  • The proposed work will be designed to meet the above-referenced federal standards
  • The grantees must make legally-binding commitments to ensure that the work is properly carried out
  • The division and the National Park Service will have continuing oversight of the projects

To comment on this finding, or to request additional information about the grant program, the Section 106 review process, or the programmatic agreement, contact Gwen Davis, deputy state historic preservation officer, at 302-736-7410 or gwen.davis@delaware.gov. Comments must be received by Aug. 29, 2014.

Press inquiries should be directed to Jim Yurasek at 302-736-7413 or jim.yurasek@delaware.gov.

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-736-7413
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Commissioner Stewart Announces Insurers Cannot Impose Hurricane Deductibles In Delaware

November 2, 2012-Dover, DE –Delaware Insurance Commissioner, Karen Weldin Stewart, has issued a bulletin and announced today that Delaware homeowners will not face higher-cost hurricane deductibles resulting from the impact of this week’s damaging storm.

Commissioner Stewart notified the industry today that based on data from the National Weather Service; Storm Sandy did not have sustained hurricane-force winds when it made land in Delaware therefore companies may not impose a hurricane deductible on Delaware claims.

Commissioner Stewart stated that “Our number one priority at The Department of insurance is protecting Delawareans. We will continue to closely monitoring the industry to guarantee that carriers are complying with all state insurance laws, and we have extended our office hours to assist policyholders with questions and complaints.”

The Delaware Department of Insurance has added additional information related to Storm Sandy on the Department of Insurance webpage which offers a number of important resources.  Consumers with additional questions can contact the Insurance Department by phone at 1-800-282-8611 (toll-free in Delaware).


Insurance Commissioner Stewart Announces Extended Office Hours to Provide Assistance for Consumers Post-Hurricane Sandy

Dover – In the days following Hurricane Sandy, those who suffered damages will begin filing insurance claims. Today, Delaware Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart announced that she will extend office hours to better assist consumers with storm-related questions or problems. Commissioner Stewart stated that “In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, The Delaware Department of Insurance is here to provide guidance to both residents and the insurance industry. Delawareans should call their insurance company or agent with their policy number and relevant information as soon as possible after experiencing storm-related damage and keep a diary of all conversations with insurance company representatives, creditors, and relief agencies.”

Commissioner Stewart explained that the Department of Insurance will be operating extended hours until 8 p.m. in the Consumer Services division starting tomorrow, November 1st and continuing through Friday, November 2nd. Before calling your insurance company, residents are advised to locate their policy number and other relevant information to expedite processing their claim. If possible, take photographs or video of the damage before clean-up or repairs. After you’ve documented the damage, take steps to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). These tips and other useful information can be found on our website at www.delawareinsurance.gov.

Consumers seeking assistance in navigating the insurance claim process can contact the Delaware Department of Insurance by calling 1-800-282-8611. We also advise residents to contact our Fraud Bureau at 1-800-632-5154 if you suspect fraud regarding home repair.


DNREC advises septic system owners on flooding impacts from Hurricane Sandy

DOVER (Oct. 29, 2012) – With Hurricane Sandy’s impacts expected to cause extensive flooding along Delaware’s coastline and some inland areas, DNREC advises septic system owners on how to manage the care of their systems during the storm and in its aftermath.

Should I pump my septic tank?
No. Only after floodwaters have receded should a septic tank be pumped. Under severe conditions tanks can float out of the ground when pumped causing damage to the inlet and outlet pipes. Metal tanks and cesspools can collapse from the water pressure against the sides of the tanks during pumping. The best solution is to drastically reduce your water use and plug all drains in the basement until floodwaters recede.

What do I do with my septic system after the floodwaters have receded?

  • Do not use the septic system until the floodwaters have receded below the water level around the house.
  • Do not open the septic tank for pumping while the soil is still saturated. Mud and silt may enter the tank and end up in the drainfield.
  • Contact a Class F – Liquid Waste Hauler to have your septic tank professionally inspected and pumped as soon as possible after the flood. Pump both the septic tank and the dosing chamber if applicable. While most septic tanks are not damaged by flooding, any silt or debris that has entered the tank needs to be removed to avoid clogging the drainfield area. Contact the Ground Water Discharges Section for a list of Class F Licensed Liquid Waste Haulers. Homeowners should never clean or repair a septic tank due to dangerous gases that can build up in septic tanks.
  • If sewage has backed up into the basement or inside the dwelling, clean the area and disinfect the floor. Use a chlorine solution of a half cup of chlorine bleach to each gallon of water to disinfect the area thoroughly. Avoid dumping any water back into the sink or toilet. Wait until you are certain a backup will not happen again.
  • Flooding of the septic tank may have lifted the layer of fats and greases found inside septic tanks. Some of this scum may have floated and/or partially plugged the outlet tee. If the septic system backs up into the house, check the outlet baffle on the septic tank.
  • Do not drive or operate equipment over the drainfield area. Wet soil is especially susceptible to compaction which can lead to system failure.
  • Be sure the septic tank’s manhole cover is secure and that the inspection ports have not been blocked or damaged.

Also be mindful that floodwaters can become contaminated from both your wastewater and your neighbors’. Use caution and avoid contact as much as possible.

For more advice and assistance in handling your septic system after Hurricane Sandy, please contact the DNREC Division of Water’s Ground Water Discharges Section. For Sussex County residents, please call (302) 856-4561. For Kent and New Castle County residents, please call (302) 739-9947.

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Consumer Alert: Commissioner Stewart Encourages Delawareans to Prepare for Hurricane Sandy

Dover – October 26, 2012 — As Delaware braces for Hurricane Sandy to arrive next week, Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart encourages Delawareans to make preparations before the storm hits. Now is the time to take several simple steps that could make filing a claim after the storm easier. The Delaware Department of Insurance offers these tips to help protect your family and your investments:

It’s Not Too Late to Create a Home Inventory

• To make the claims process easier, it’s imperative to have a complete list of the belongings in your home. An inventory should include all of the vital information about your belongings (brand name, price, date of purchase, model, serial number and receipts) and should be accompanied by photos of the items. There are several simple ways to start building a home inventory. You can download a home inventory spreadsheet that will help get you started. If you are using an electronic or paper spreadsheet, remember to take pictures of your belongings, and save them in the same place as the home inventory.

• Or you can download the free Home Inventory app for iPhone or the Android version. The app will guide you through capturing images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then storing them electronically for safekeeping. The app even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing. This app is available on our website at www.delawareinsurance.gov

• Talk with your agent or company to make sure your homeowners or renter’s policy is adequate to cover your new investments.

• If you don’t have time to create a comprehensive list of the items in your home, then quickly videotape and/or photograph every room. The more detail you include, the easier it will be for your insurance company to evaluate your loss. When making your list, make sure to open drawers and closets, and don’t forget to take stock of what’s in your garage and storage buildings.

• Once you have made your inventory, or taken photographs of your home, e-mail the information to family or friends living out of the hurricane threat or your insurance agent.

Collect Your Insurance Information

• Store copies of your insurance policies with your home inventory. Make sure to have a copy of your policy declarations page listing all of your coverages, as well as your insurance cards.

• It’s also important to have 24-hour contact details for your insurance agent and insurance company. Make a list that includes your policy numbers, your insurance company and insurance agent’s phone numbers, website addresses and mailing addresses. Also, check to see if the company or your agent has set up an emergency information hotline. It is a good idea to store this information, and your home inventory, in a waterproof, fireproof box or safe. If you evacuate your home, don’t forget to take this information with you.

• Before a storm hits, review your insurance policies. Make sure you know what is and is not covered. If you have questions, contact your insurance agent or company.

NOTE! Flood damage is NOT covered by a standard homeowners or renter’s insurance policy. If you have a separate flood insurance policy, remember to include a copy of the policy and the contact details for the insurance company on your list. Be aware that there is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy is effective. For additional information on flood insurance and knowing your flood risk, please see Consumer Alert 2012-1, or you may contact your insurance agent, or the National Flood Insurance Program at 1.800.638.6620, or visit www.floodsmart.gov.

Prepare for the Worst

• There are steps you can take to help mitigate some of the damage caused by a hurricane or tropical storm. If your home is equipped with storm shutters, make sure you can quickly put them in place. Clear your yard of debris that could become projectiles in high winds and trim dead or overhanging branches from trees surrounding your home. It’s also a good time to make a quick review of your home to make sure the roof sheathing is properly secured, that end gables are securely fastened to the roof, and that doors and garage doors are latched properly.

• For personal safety, identify the nearest storm shelter and have an evacuation plan for your family. Also, make sure you have hurricane survival supplies including: bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, at least three days of non-perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies and enough cash for at least three days.

• If you are forced to evacuate your home, turn off all utilities and disconnect appliances to reduce the chance of additional damage and electrical shock when utilities are restored.

• For more information about how to prepare your family and home for the threat of tropical storms or hurricanes, visit the American Red Cross’ or download their Hurricane Safety Checklist at www.redcross.org

After the Storm

• The days following a natural disaster can be confusing and stressful, but it is important that you focus on filing your insurance claim(s) as quickly as possible to help protect your financial future.

• The first step to getting your home restored is to contact your insurance company and/or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time frame.

• Take photographs/video of the damage before clean-up or repairs. After you’ve documented the damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). DO NOT have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage. Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs.

• If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses.

• Cooperate fully with the insurance company. Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file the claim. Keep a diary of all conversations you have with the insurance company and your insurance agent, including names, times and dates of the calls or visits and contact details.

• Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information may cause a delay in processing your claim.

• If the first offer made by the insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate. If there is a disagreement about the claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy differently. If you believe you are being treated unfairly, or if the delay is unreasonable, contact the Delaware Department of Insurance at 1-800-282-8611 (in-state).

• Even after settling your claim, if you think of items that were not in your initial loss list, contact your insurance company. Unless the company has paid the entire limit for the coverage of those types of items, it is possible the company will make an additional payment.

Protect Yourself From Home Repair Fraud

  • Home repair fraud increases exponentially following a major storm. Protect your investment by getting more than one bid from contractors and requesting at least three references.
  • Do not pay a contractor the full amount up front or sign over your insurance settlement payment. A contractor should expect to be paid a percentage when the contract is signed and the remainder when the work is completed.
  • If the contractor finds hidden damage that was not discovered in the original assessment by the adjuster, contact your insurance company to resolve the difference. For any disagreements that cannot be resolved, contact your state insurance department about your recourse.

These storm tips, as well as more information about homeowners insurance, the home inventory smartphone app and an online complaint form, are available on the Delaware Department of Insurance website at www.delawareinsurance.gov. Call the Department of Insurance at 1-800-282-8611 (in-state) with any questions you have about insurance coverage or if you have any problems with your insurance companies.