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Legislators approve flood insurance for HLOM after discussion about whether it's necessary

If a flood came along big enough to wash away the Holland Land Office Museum, the county would have bigger problems than worrying about the loss of an historic structure.

The building is irreplaceable, which had Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the County Legislature, wondering during Wednesday's Ways and Means Committee meeting, whether the county should spend $8,457 a year on flood insurance (The policy also covers county offices at 15 Main St.).

"If you lose the building, you're not going to replace it," Cianfrini said. "It's a loss, but we don't own anything inside. Are we spending good money to go after something we don't need?"

County Attorney Chuck Zambito said it's entirely a policy decision for the Legislature to make, but flood insurance covers more than just a total wipeout of the building (The current structure isn't even the original land office building, which was destroyed by fire in the 19th Century).

A flood could do a lot of damage to the building without washing away the main structure.

"What's more likely to happen is you're going to have significant damage and you'll need to repair it rather than tear down the building," Zambito said.

Committee Chairman Bob Bausch agreed.

"One issue we should be aware of is that in my lifetime that building has flooded at least twice," Bausch said.

The policy through Wright National Flood Insurance in St. Petersburg, Fla., has a $10,000 deductible on the land office on a $1,000 deductible on the office at 15 Main.

The buildings are covered under a separate policy for casualty and liability and damage other than flood.

Another reason for the insurance policy, Zambito said, is that for the county to file a claim with FEMA in the event of a disaster, if a building is within a flood zone and it didn't have flood insurance, FEMA could deny the building owner any assistance.

At the end of the discussion, the committee unanimously approved a resolution recommending the Legislature authorize purchase of the insurance.

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