U. of Waterloo, Intact Financial seek ways to reduce damage from severe weather

The University of Waterloo and Intact Financial Corp. (TSX:IFC) have created a new research centre that will look for new ways to reduce weather-related property damage linked to climate change.

Intact will initially provide $4.25 million for a program focused on how to protect Canadian communities from severe precipitation, such as unusually heavy rains and ice storms.

Another program will identify how various Canadian industrial sectors are vulnerable to extreme weather.

The new Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation will be based in the university’s environment faculty. The centre will monitor applied research from around the world and conduct its own research.

The ICCA will also launch a national Home Adaptation Audit Program (HAAP) to assess the vulnerability of homes to flood damage, and make specific recommendations to help homeowners avoid costly damage from extreme weather.

Intact has been warning for several years that weather-related events such as unusually heavy rainfall have become a major challenge to the insurance industry, consumers and business.

Blair Feltmate, the University of Waterloo professor who will lead the new centre, previously worked with the company on 20 pilot projects in five provinces.

Intact provided $700,000 for the pilot projects, including $75,000 to create more porous ground by ripping up paving in Calgary and the Ontario communities of Mississauga, Peterborough, Kingston and Ottawa.


Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems and Winter Tires

Black ice is a hazard here on Vancouver Island and the best defense is a good set of winter tires. They are designed to help hold the road better than M+S rated all season tires and it’s now time to find a set for my wife’s Honda CR-V. I’m fortunate to be able to afford what I want, so it was off to Honda for a set of steel wheels, Consumer Reports for the best tire choices and then the retailers for the best price. I thought that I had it all wrapped up until I remembered the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

TPMS is important to help call tire inflation problems to my attention if they change before I find it with my tire gauge. Poor inflation can affect traction, the tendency to hydroplane, fuel economy, and tire life. Let tire pressure fall too low and the tire can destroy itself or fail suddenly, resulting in a collision. I opened my web browser and searched on TPMS and winter tires. The results told me that I could buy a second set of modules and pay the dealer to have the vehicle’s computer reset every time I changed the tires and wheels as the car’s computer can only manage the 4 sensors that it has been told about.

If your vehicle uses the anti-lock brake system (ABS) to sense tire pressure instead of a module in each wheel, this situation will not apply. You may change your tires and wheels and the system will continue to function without having to be adjusted. Check your owner’s manual or contact the dealership for more information if you are unsure of which system your vehicle uses.

Some articles complained about traction control and vehicle stability systems being negatively affected if the TPMS modules were not present and functioning properly. This is not the case according to my Honda dealer. The worst thing that I will have to put up with is the tire pressure warning light shining brightly until I put the original wheels back on again.

For now, since it is not mandatory to have a functional TPMS, I’ve decided to make sure that I check my tire inflation with a good gauge on a regular basis and let the inflation warning light shine. When I decide that I can’t live with it or the law changes, I’ll buy a set of sensors and a reset tool.

Reference Links:

Mexico’s Pacific coast area hardest hit by Patricia begins to dig out, assess damage

By Christopher Sherman


EL REBALSE, Mexico _ The town square in El Rebalse is now an island amid Hurricane Patricia’s floodwaters, a place for Maria Santana Vazquez and her husband to rest Sunday after wading through water, at times chest deep, trying to return home.

All around, kids swam, a dog paddled and just before noon two high-clearance army transport trucks arrived the first outside help since Patricia, the hemisphere’s strongest hurricane on record, roared in Friday night and washed out the only paved road into town.

While Mexico for the most part was relieved that the storm caused no fatalities and only marginal damage in the resort of Puerto Vallarta and the principle port of Manzanillo, the sparsely populated zone of Pacific coast where Patricia delivered its fury was only beginning to assess the full damage Sunday.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said Saturday that 3,000 to 3,500 homes were damaged and about 8,650 acres of farmland were hurt. But that was before anyone from the government arrived in El Rebalse, a town surrounded by banana plantations that Associated Press journalists tried to reach on foot before hitching a ride on the army trucks.

Banana trees as far as the eye could see were snapped in half, and large bunches of the fruit mouldered in the intense sun.

“They’re going to lose a whole year,” Santana’s husband, Artemio Sanmeron Sanchez, said of the plantations where everyone in town made their living.

Then the couple slipped back into the water and waded off. Already they had slogged from the neighbouring town, Cihuatlan, where they evacuated. They assumed their home of 15 years was destroyed.

In the surrounding Cihuatlan Valley, less than 6 miles (10 kilometres) from the Pacific, between 1,800 and 2,000 people depend directly on agriculture for livelihoods, said Narciso de Jesus Ramirez Rubio, a banana grower and president of the municipal small landowners association. That’s not counting their families.

He was annoyed that, in his mind, Pena Nieto had played down the damage. He said that only with government help could the owners of the mango and banana plantations hope to get their fields producing again in a year’s time. Work to build levees to contain the nearby Marabasco River began three years ago, but were not completed, he said.

“This is total destruction,” Ramirez said as he watched soldiers work to make a washed out section of road passable. “Agriculture along with tourism is the principle source of employment.”

The Mexican navy put out a statement Sunday that it had 5,791 sailors and marines, 192 vehicles, seven aircraft, three vessels and eight mobile kitchens working to reach those affected by the mega-storm.

Patricia made landfall as a powerful Category 5 hurricane, having peaked at sea with winds up to 200 mph then coming ashore Friday evening with winds of 165 mph.

After the wind and rain subsided, the river entered through a gap behind the banana plantation where Martha Gutierrez and her husband had lived and worked for nine years. It was 1:20 a.m. and the family scrambled to another house with a second story. They hadn’t evacuated before the storm because they wanted to care for their animals. In the end, five of their six pigs drowned, and their house was destroyed.

“We have nothing to eat,” Gutierrez said.

In El Rebalse, Rosalinda Hernandez Murga stirred a pot of rice soup over a wood fire.

Her family and three others took shelter in a well-constructed, two-story house before Patricia struck. Its sloped driveway to an elevated parking area is now a landing area for boats.

All 16 people staying there crowded into a room on the second floor when the storm hit. The fiercest winds lasted about two hours, but strong winds blew for five or six hours shaking the house.

“It felt like it was going to lift off,” Hernandez said.

Around 1 a.m. the water began rising around them. By Sunday it had gone down somewhat, but was still about chest high in the street.

Out on the road leading to El Rebalse, mud-caked and breathing hard, Carmela Jeronimo Avalos heaved a big garbage bag of clothing off her shoulder and onto the pavement. She had just slogged about a mile (2 kilometres) into the flood zone with relatives to salvage what they could.

With the water subsiding to ankle deep, they could haul out clothes, a small television and two electric fans. After catching her breath, Jeronimo turned around and began another trek to her ruined home to see what else could be saved.


Economic losses from US hurricanes consistent with an influence from climate change

Source: Nature Geoscience Report Abstract

Warming of the climate system and its impacts on biophysical and human systems have been widely documented.

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have also changed, but the observed increases in natural disaster losses are often thought to result solely from societal change, such as increases in exposure and vulnerability.

Here we analyse the economic losses from tropical cyclones in the United States, using a regression-based approach instead of a standard normalization procedure to changes in exposure and vulnerability, to minimize the chance of introducing a spurious trend.

Unlike previous studies, we use statistical models to estimate the contributions of socioeconomic factors to the observed trend in losses and we account for non-normal and nonlinear characteristics of loss data. We identify an upward trend in economic losses between 1900 and 2005 that cannot be explained by commonly used socioeconomic variables.

Based on records of geophysical data, we identify an upward trend in both the number and intensity of hurricanes in the North Atlantic basin as well as in the number of loss-generating tropical cyclone records in the United States that is consistent with the smoothed global average rise in surface air temperature.

We estimate that, in 2005, US$2 to US$14 billion of the recorded annual losses could be attributable to climate change, 2 to 12% of that year’s normalized losses.

We suggest that damages from tropical cyclones cannot be dismissed when evaluating the current and future costs of climate change and the expected benefits of mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Hurricane Oho to bring gusty winds, heavy rain to Canada

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BC: August windstorm tops $25 million in insured damage

VANCOUVER, Oct. 6, 2015 /CNW/ – The windstorm that swept through southern British Columbia on August 29 caused over $25 million in insured damage, according to a preliminary estimate by Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ)*.

The storm affected Metro Vancouver and surrounding areas, bringing rain and strong winds that toppled fences, trees and power lines and left hundreds of thousands without power. The storm also closed businesses and attractions, including Stanley Park and the annual Pacific National Exhibition.

“Extreme weather events, such as this one, are increasing in frequency and severity,” said Bill Adams, IBC Vice-President, Western and Pacific. “Since the late ’90s, claims payouts as a result of severe weather in British Columbia have more than doubled. The facts point to the importance of being prepared.”

Canadians, governments, businesses and the insurance industry recognize the toll that severe weather events take year after year. IBC has made adapting to severe weather a priority because it’s a phenomenon that continues to impact families and communities.

One way to be better prepared is to understand insurance coverage options, Adams explains. “Know what’s in your insurance policy and research ways to reduce your property’s vulnerability to damage. For more information, British Columbians should speak with their insurance representative or call IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC. We’re here to help.”

*Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ) compiles and combines comprehensive insured loss amounts and related information to serve the risk management needs of the insurance and reinsurance industries.

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 118,000 Canadians, pays $6.7 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $48 billion.

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

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

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

For further information: To schedule an interview, please contact: Celyeste Power, Manager, Media Relations, 416-362-2031 ext. 4312 (office), 647-384-9872 (after hours), cpower@ibc.ca

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