As of Sunday, electricity was restored 99 percent of Central Maine Power Co. According to the company’s estimates, some 6,000 were still in the dark.

Now, many Midcoast residents are facing debris cleanup, repairs and replacement of spoiled food from the impact of last Monday’s storm.

According to the Maine Emergency Management Agency, it is important to document damages and associated storm costs.

“Your first contact should be your insurance agent,” the MEMA website states.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance recommends that homeowner policy holders file claims as soon as possible. Notify the insurance company’s claim hotline or your agent as soon as possible after the loss has occurred. Most policies require prompt notice of a loss.

The bureau also recommends documenting claim interactions. Keep a copy of and log all correspondence with your insurance company. Homeowners should also make temporary repairs to protect their property from further damage, which most policies generally cover.

Again, keep a record of those costs. The adjuster will need to inspect the damage before permanent repairs are made.

“Do not dispose of damaged items,” the bureau states. “The adjuster will want to see the damaged property first. Make sure the company no longer needs to review the property before you dispose of it.”

To help document the damage to property, MEMA advises taking photos of the damage.

Also, keep complete records of losses and disaster- related expenses. This should help with filing a claim. And for people who are not insured, this can help if they apply for state or federal aid that may become available, and possibly for income tax deductions as well.

MEMA is working on a Federal Disaster Declaration in order to get assistance; there is a statewide threshold of $1.9 million in damage to public infrastructure before aid can be triggered, so MEMA is gathering data from county emergency management agencies to determine whether that benchmark will be met.

According to MEMA, most disaster losses are deductible for income tax purposes.

Many households are facing the loss of hundreds of dollars worth of food that spoiled in their refrigerators during the outage, which they will need to replace. According to Allstate Insurance Company, the cause of the power outage can play a role in whether your homeowners insurance will cover spoiled food.

Lost food expenses are often reimbursable if a result of a covered loss to your home through “perils,” such as when a tree falls on the roof. Insurance policies may cover spoiled food if the power outage affects only the policyholder’s residence; others may cover it even if the entire neighborhood is without power. Either way the outage would have likely have to be caused by a “covered peril” and not, for example, the result of a homeowner accidentally cutting their own power in a failed do-it-yourself project.

There may be immediate relief, however, for those receiving Food Supplement benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that lost food following the storm, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

If recipients lost food they bought with Food Supplement benefits due to an extended loss of power, they can get a supplemental benefit equal to the amount of their loss but not more than their monthly benefit. To do so, applicants will have to follow the established guidelines and processes in place to receive replacement benefits.

“ In times like these it is important that we come together to help our neighbors. Those who discarded food they had purchased with SNAP benefits may be eligible for replacement benefits,” said DHHS Commissioner Ricker Hamilton in a prepared statement. “This is the true purpose of these programs — to provide assistance to the truly needy, especially in these kinds of emergency situations.”

For those wishing to apply for the replacement benefits, call the Office for Family Independence at (855) 797-4357 to request a form be sent to you, or come in to a regional office.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance said it’s important for people to know their policy: “Before a loss ever occurs, be familiar with your policy and understand what it says.”

What to document

ACCORDING TO MEMA’s website, homeowners should keep records on:

• All actual losses, including furniture, clothes, paintings, artifacts, food, and equipment, even if you don’t intend to replace them.

• All disaster-related expenses. This includes the additional cost of living, if any, for your family and you, such as motel and restaurant bills, temporary rental of cars or home rental.

• Clean-up expenses, rented equipment, and depreciation of equipment purchases.

• Restoration expenses, including all labor and material purchased, and other costs to return your home to its prior condition.

• After completing your list of losses, have two or three of your neighbors sign the list as witnesses. Make sure they inspect all damaged material, so they can vouch for the list’s accuracy.

• Try to document the value of each object lost. Include bills of sale, canceled checks, charge account records or prior insurance evaluations. If you don’t have these, estimate the value, purchase place, and date of purchase. Include this information with your list.

• After the clean up, make an inventory of your household and document it with pictures or receipts. Keep it in a safe deposit box or in another safe place away from the area.

[email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: