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Head of the Federal Flood Insurance Program Resigns

Flood-claims program head resigns from federal post
His departure follows vow to overhaul agency
By Andrew A. Green, Baltimore Sun Staff
Originally published June 5, 2004

The head of the federal flood insurance program has resigned weeks after promising an overhaul of his agency and agreeing to review the thousands of disputed claims from Tropical Storm Isabel, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said yesterday.

The spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, declined to discuss the reasons that Anthony S. Lowe, director of the National Flood Insurance Program, gave for his departure Thursday.

She said the claims review will continue and that Lowe's deputy, Trey Reid, will be acting director.

Claims effort

Some flood victims, many of whom have not returned to their homes nearly eight months after Isabel, have begun to question the effectiveness of the claims-review effort.

Flood victims and advocates said yesterday that they are worried that Lowe's departure is a sign that the agency has not resolved the problems that resulted in thousands of victims' receiving settlements insufficient to rebuild.

"This is just another troubling sign that this program is in disarray," said Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr., who has been heavily involved in flood insurance reform efforts.

"I had a lot of confidence that Anthony Lowe was sincerely committed to trying to resolve things equitably, and I guess now the jury's really out."

24,000 claims

Flood victims filed more than 24,000 claims after Isabel. Victims in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina complained that the settlement offers they received were often tens of thousands of dollars short of what their contractors charged them to rebuild their homes.

Early last month, program officials said they had received 948 requests for claims reviews, of which 273 had been re-evaluated.

Inspectors had found that 33 policyholders deserved more money, an average of more than $15,000 each, according to the program.

No more updates

Spokesman James McIntire said yesterday that the agency will not release further updates on the claims re-evaluations because of a class action lawsuit filed last month on behalf of flood victims.

The lawsuit names as defendants several private insurance companies that sell and service the federal flood policies, but not the program.


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