from local banks tried to educate the residents of tiny Carroll County about flood insurance. Outside, Mother Nature was working against them, as heavy rains pelted the community, keeping locals away, organizers said. But it was residents' indifference to the issue more than poor weather that watered down the Nov. 1 event. "There was horrible rainy and foggy weather," said Gary Smith, compliance officer with Westminster Bank and Trust Co. "But the basic problem is that despite our efforts people think that this (flooding) won't happen to me." The rain made an ironic backdrop for the flood preparation and insurance event that featured presentations from TransAmerica, State Farm Insurance, and other companies, as well as federal and county administrators. Still, despite the small crowd, participants called the 90-minute event a success. Bankers said the seminar's goal was to inform the public about disaster preparation and flood insurance requirements. The event was organized by Carol Fogle, compliance officer at Carroll County Bank and Trust. Earlier this year, Ms. Fogle had attended a Federal Emergency Management Administration seminar in Pennsylvania that was part of the agency's nationwide effort to educate the public about flood insurance. That experience drove her to organize the banks in her community for last week's event. Participating banks, in addition to the Carroll County and Westminster institutions, were Union National Bank in Westminster; Taneytown Bank and Trust Co.; New Windsor State Bank, and Farmers and Mechanics National Bank and FCNB Bank, both in Frederick. Christine Chisholm, compliance officer at Taneytown Bank, said many consumers don't understand the flood insurance rules banks must comply with, and that can create tension. "If the property in question is in a hazard area, we can't make a loan unless the individual buys insurance," Ms. Chisholm said. "It has caused some resentment on the part of the general public toward banks when there's something that we can't do and people don't understand why." Organizers estimated that 65 people attended the seminar. Those present heard speeches by Elaine McReynolds, an administrator with FEMA's Flood Insurance Administration; James E. Slater Jr. from the county office of environmental services, and George Thomas, the county's assistant director of emergency management. Attendees also were provided with information from event co-sponsor State Farm, FEMA, Transamerica, and the Red Cross. Transamerica also brought a flood determination map of Carroll County, allowing people to see the affected areas of the community, and to receive a free flood determination. But, Ms. Fogle said, people only want to think about flood maps and disaster when they absolutely have to. "If there had just been a tropical storm in the area," Ms. Fogle said, "the place would have been standing room only."
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