Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gay Businessman Coping with Losses From Ellicott City Flood

Sam Coyne helping other shop owners in the aftermath of the flood.
Photo: Sally Fox Tennant
Sam Coyne and his husband Josh Haupt were heading to their nearby home just as record-breaking amounts of rain began to deluge Ellicott City’s historic Main Street on July 30. 
Coyne, the owner of Craig Coyne Jewelers, was notified by his alarm company that his store had been flooded.  The business, which he started nearly 17 years ago in Ellicott City, was moved to a new location in 2014 at 8133 Main St. in a renovated historic stone building with Wedgwood blue doors, trimming, and flower pots on the exterior.
The couple, who were married last fall in Ellicott City, immediately turned back and ran down to help people.  “There was screaming and sparks, the smell of gas and refuse,” Coyne said.  “We were able to help three women, three dogs and a cat, which we feel really good about.”

Only recently was Coyne permitted to return to the store and assess the damage.  Before that, his access was limited.  #hococommunity
“Our building is one of the original stone structures in town and while tiny, it is made finely of granite mined in the hills of the town we call home,” he says.  “A small wooden addition and a small deck on the backside we think cannot be salvaged.  All showcases, glass, windows, doors, flooring and ceiling are in need of extensive repair or replacement.”
Customer jewelry had been secured in a 3,000 pound vault that is now standing upright on a layer of mud.  The jewelry contained in showcases is a different matter. 

Recently, Coyne was able to retrieve security footage from his store that dramatically reveals the onset of the flooding and the interior damage that resulted. The video was shown on WBAL-TV. 
Last Tuesday, Coyne and Haupt, who is also his business partner, met with the insurance inspector and structural engineer.  “The building's foundation is not damaged,” Coyne says.  “The entire first level will be gutted including the floor rafters, flooring, walls and ceiling.”

Sam Coyne
Howard County government is not allowing any private companies to do work until about September 16.  Public Utilities are shoring up everything first. Work at individual properties cannot begin until after the street is opened, according to Coyne.
They are taking a direct financial hit from this flood. “Our secondary insurance coverage is not paying, saying, ‘The first occurrence must be an insurable event before secondary coverage begins.’  So all the jewelry that washed away, the display, glass, lighting, showcases, gem equipment, computers, security system, vault, jeweler’s tools, etc. come with a direct cost to us.  We are approaching $500,000 in loss.  Our big question, raise the money to rebuild or raise the money to move on.”

To help pay for Coyne’s losses, Lori Gadola of Kelim Jewelry, launched a GoFundMe page.
“We are now questioning the economic viability of Historic Ellicott City,” Coyne muses.  “Without any answers we are unable to move forward so we continue to pay all our expenses hoping to survive until the town can be rebuilt.”

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