SORRENTO — The Town Council voted unanimously Thursday night to provide its insurance carrier with full documentation in support of damage claims of residential flooding caused by municipal sewage backup problems.
The town of Sorrento admits it is responsible for sewage overflows into at least three private homes after heavy August rains, Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. said during a special council meeting called to discuss the insurance claims.
However, the town’s insurance carrier denied the claims that would pay for the damage, the mayor said.
The problem facing Sorrento, attorney Donovan Hudson said, is unclear documentation of the losses.
Risk Management, the town’s insurance company, wrote the town government a letter saying it had no “actual or constructive notice of any defective or hazardous conditions involving the sewage backup.”
Longanecker told council members he did call the insurance company to inform it of the sewage emergency while actually standing in one of the flooded homes.
Hudson explained that before Risk Management pays the claims, it would need to verify two things: that the town government knew about the problem triggering the backup, and that the town had reasonable time to correct it before the backup occurred.
After giving the issue an airing, council members voted unanimously to send a letter to Risk Management clarifying their position and providing any additional documentation needed to support the damage claims.
Sorrento has been struggling with sewer system problems for years, Councilman Randy Anny noted while also asserting there is ample documentation of that.
Whether the claims are paid or not, Anny said, the Town Council is ultimately responsible, officials agreed.
“If they won’t pay, the town needs to take care of these people’s houses,” Councilman Lionel Melancon Jr. said.