Residents can file flood claims

Last month, nearly 30 families at the flood-damaged Cavalier Apartments in east Charlotte learned with anger that they lacked flood insurance they thought they had.

After nearly three weeks of negotiations among Mecklenburg County and the companies involved, county officials announced Tuesday that most of the families can submit claims after all.

“I'm feeling better about the situation. I'm just hoping I'm treated fairly,” said Akira Darroux, a Cavalier resident who was flooded out of his ground-floor apartment Aug. 27 and was told only Tuesday he could submit a flood insurance claim. “Two or three weeks of this, you lose a lot of patience.”

In all, 28 families who lived on the complex's ground floor – half of the people who lived on that floor – thought they had flood insurance but were told after the flood that they didn't. Of those, 25 will be covered, county officials said.

Of the other three, one didn't fill out the proper paperwork, and the other two filled it out too late, said Dave Canaan, the county's stormwater services director, whose department oversaw the insurance offers.

Families whose claims are granted will receive up to $9,000, depending on adjusters' damage estimates. Adjusters will be in touch with residents over the next several days, Canaan said. The county will pay no more than $36,000 total from its own insurance fund, he said.

The county arranged for the insurance when it bought the complex in June. It spent nearly $10 million, most of it federal money, for the 192-unit Cavalier complex, which sits in a floodplain next to Briar Creek. The purchase was part of a county program to buy properties in flood-prone areas, relocate the residents and turn the property into park land or retention ponds. The county intends to tear the complex down early next year.

When it bought the complex, the county offered to pay for residents' flood insurance from The Hartford. Most filled out applications for insurance in spring or early summer.

In the meantime, a real estate firm and a relocation company, hired by the county, began supplying residents with lists of available, comparable apartments. Residents could contact the relocation firm, THC, about applying for the insurance.

Then, on Aug. 27, the complex flooded as the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay drenched the Charlotte area. Residents who called The Hartford were told that the policies were on file. But the firm said the paperwork hadn't been turned in until mid-August – which, factoring in a 30-day waiting period, meant the policies wouldn't take effect until mid-September.

Over the past two weeks, officials from the county, THC, Brown & Glenn Realty (the company the county hired to run the complex) and D.G. Smith & Company (the local insurance broker) have met to figure out what to do.

Ultimately, they decided to extend coverage to all but a few, acknowledging someone mistakenly held the paperwork too long.

It's unclear who did, or why.

Of the 25 who will be covered, four have legitimate policies; eight will be covered by THC; one will be covered by the county; and 12 will be covered by all four parties.

“Rather than get lawyers involved and have them hash things out over several months, we decided the best thing to do is to get these resolved as soon as possible and split it up evenly,” Canaan said.