Flood Threat: Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Okanagan

By Matt Meuse, CBC News

The mayor of Kelowna, B.C., is warning residents to prepare for dramatic flooding expected to begin Thursday evening as heavy rain returns to the southern Interior.

“Over the next few days, we will see water levels in our city — particularly in creeks and in our lakes — reach levels we’ve never seen before,” Mayor Colin Basran said in a video posted online by the City of Kelowna.

“I know we got a bit of a taste of it this past weekend, and by all accounts we will see flooding to that level and possibly beyond.”

Basran urged residents — even those in upland areas — to take protective measures like building sandbag berms to protect property, and to prepare 72-hour emergency preparedness kits. He said the rain may also cause road washouts and landslides.

Check in on friends

Basran also asked residents to check in on friends, family and neighbours, and to consider taking those people into their homes if possible, because hotels in Kelowna are nearing capacity.

“This is the time now where as a community, we need to come together and look after each other,” Basran said.

Kelowna floodplain

A floodplain map of downtown Kelowna shows one area the city expects may be at significant risk of flooding Thursday evening. (City of Kelowna)

Todd Cashin, suburban and rural planning manager with the City of Kelowna, said much of downtown Kelowna is at risk of flooding from Mission and Mill creeks. He said the city has been diking to prepare, but historically much of the area has acted as a spillway for the two creeks.

“You’ll see some old photos from the 1930s — basically the whole area, the flat part of Kelowna — is on a floodplain,” Cashin said.

Rain began this morning in Kelowna. Cashin says peak water levels are generally expected 12 to 18 hours after that.

Information about emergency preparedness kits and where to obtain sand and sandbags is available on the Central Okanagan Regional District’s website.

Alerts in effect across province

Hundreds of people around the province remain out of their homes after numerous evacuation orders were issued during last week’s flooding.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre has posted a flood watch for the Salmon River in Shuswap, while high streamflow advisories cover most waterways across the southern and southeastern parts of the province.

High streamflow advisories are also in place for northern parts of the province, including the Bulkley Valley, northeast B.C. and the Peace region.

Environment Canada warned storms packing up to 70 millimetres of rain are expected by Friday and could drop a further 20 to 30 millimetres across northern regions by Saturday.

Severe thunderstorm watches were issued for parts of the central and southern Interior, with the potential for strong winds, hail and heavy rain.

Real time streamflow data can be viewed on the River Forecast Centre’s website.

Water damage has surpassed fire as the leading cause of home insurance payouts, according to IBC.

Read more

One year later: A look at the Fort McMurray wildfire and rebuild by the numbers

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. _ It’s been one year since a wildfire devastated parts of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray. Here is a look at the rebuild by the numbers:

1,595: Number of buildings and structures destroyed in the fire. Includes 2,579 dwelling units.

650: Approximate number of development permits issued by Fort McMurray since the fire, representing about 900 dwelling units.

222: Number of single-family homes started in the first three months of the year. Most starts in a three-month stretch since early 2008.

179: Number of homebuilders that have registered under new disclosure laws to do work in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

33: Approximate number of families living in rebuilt homes as of the start of April.

48,000: Roughly the total number of insurance claims expected to be processed. Includes 12,000 auto claims and 25,000 home claims.

$80,000: Average insurance payout per claim.

$3.8 billion: Estimated total payout in insurance claims.

9.8: Unemployment rate for the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake area as of March 2016.

9.1: Unemployment rate for the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake area as of March 2017.

600: Approximate decline in student numbers in public and Catholic schools for 2016-2017 year. Total enrolment slightly more than 11,000 between the two school systems.

1.5 million: Average barrels of oil per day produced from the oilsands before the fire.

3 million: Record high number of barrels per day produced from the oilsands in November, six months after the fire.

12,000: Estimated number of fridges and freezers that had to be replaced, according to Insurance Bureau of Canada.

$660,000: Median home price in March 2016 on 21 homes sold.

$560,000: Median sale price of the 45 single detached homes sold in March.

11: Number of single family vacant lots sold in March, at a median sale price of $156,000, compared with none sold in March 2016.

17.8: Total vacancy rate for Wood Buffalo as of October 2016. A year earlier it stood at 29.3 per cent.

29,068: Number of mental-health-related client contacts between May 10, 2016, and March 18, 2017, at Alberta Health Services Addiction and Mental Health in Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo.

$189 million: Total amount of money donated to the Red Cross.

$134 million: Total value of donations that were matched by the federal and provincial governments.

$231 million: Total amount the Red Cross says it has allocated to support individuals and families.

$30 million: Total amount the Red Cross says it has allocated to support small businesses.

$50 million: Total amount the Red Cross says it has allocated to support community groups.

10,900: The number of plane and bus tickets the Red Cross booked to help people return home.

37,000: The number of cleanup kits handed out to returning evacuees.

6,000 per cent: The surge in social media traffic the Red Cross saw in the aftermath of the fire.

40: The number of volunteers required to manage the Red Cross social media accounts.

$45M insurance claims from March windstorm in eastern Newfoundland

Excerpted article was By Marilyn Boone, CBC News

Insurance companies have tallied the cost of a March blizzard that whipped through eastern Newfoundland and says damage claims covered by insurance add up to $45 million.

Hurricane-force winds on March 11 gusted more than 140 km/hr damaging residential and commercial buildings, vehicles and power lines.

Siding and roofs were stripped from houses, traffic lights were torn from their posts and windows were blown out of vehicles.

More than 70,000 people were without power, some for more than a day.

Winds were so strong in St. John’s that windows were blown out of vehicles in the Stavanger Drive area.

What happened is known in the insurance world as a catastrophic event, according to Amanda Dean, Atlantic vice president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada

“In the insurance industry, anything over 25 million is considered a catastrophic event,” Dean said.

The March 11 storm, on a Saturday, had residential and commercial clients calling their insurance companies the next day.

The storm came just months after remnants of Hurricane Matthew — in October 2016 — which resulted in $100 million worth of insurance claims by customers in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

In 2010, Hurricane Igor resulted in $75 million in insurance claims. Those figures from the insurance industry do not include damage to public infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

“One event doesn’t necessarily affect insurance rates,” Dean said, but noted that catastrophic events are happening more frequently.

Premiums charged are meant to fill up the pool of money that’s available to pay out claims and “once the pools are depleted, they have to be filled back up.”

Bay Roberts wharf

The wind ripped off the roof of this building on the Bay Roberts wharf, just one of the structures damaged in the March 11 storm. (Phil Smith/Twitter)

Fort McMurray is missing an opportunity to make itself more fire-resilient as it rebuilds, an insurance expert says.

Read more

Southern Ontario windstorm causes close to $100 million in insured damage

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that a windstorm which affected parts of southern Ontario on March 8, 2017 has resulted in almost $100 million in insured damage according to Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).

A low pressure system brought damaging winds to southern Ontario. The strongest gusts were felt in Hamilton, ON with wind speeds nearing 115 km/hr. Other parts of the region received wind gusts in the range of 70-105 km/hr.

“Windstorms can be a devastating force of nature. They can cause significant damage in a very short amount of time,” said Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC. “It is important that consumers take precautions and secure their property in an effort to minimize potential damage.  Consumers should also understand their insurance policies and know what’s covered before storms like these, or other catastrophes strike.”

The strong winds damaged roofs and caused trees and branches to fall on houses, roads, and power lines. Approximately 68,000 residents lost power and the Burlington Skyway was closed for several hours following a transport truck rollover caused by the wind. Unfortunately, a 23 year-old man died as a result of this storm.

For more information on how to protect property against windstorms and other disasters please visit IBC’s website.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 120,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $49 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau and @IBC_Ontario or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

About CatIQ
Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ) delivers detailed analytical and meteorological information on Canadian natural and man-made catastrophes. Through its online subscription-based platform, CatIQ combines comprehensive insured loss indices and other related information to better serve the needs of the insurance and reinsurance industries, public sector and other stakeholders. To learn more, visit www.catiq.com.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

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