May floods caused hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage

Published: June 13, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Record flooding in some parts of Canada during May left a clean-up bill totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

Severe weather events affected western and eastern regions of the country. Aon Benfield’s Global Catastrophe Recap report points out that southern parts of British Columbia were already at maximum due to rivers flowing above yearly averages during April. More rainfall during the start of May pushed rivers to overflow.

Major infrastructure damage was caused, agricultural land was destroyed, and at least two people lost their lives. The floods also affected thousands of buildings and cost left damage losses of tens of millions of US dollars.

“Numerous trees were downed and significant property damage was reported in all three provinces. Almost 200,000 customers were without power at the storm’s peak,” the report noted. Flooding was reported along portions of the British Columbia coast and in the Okanagan region.

Rivers in Quebec, Ontario, and Maritimes also burst their banks in May. In Quebec, two were killed as 2,000 residents were evacuated. The floods in the province were record breaking for May.

“Among the worst affected communities was Ottawa-Gatineau where both the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers burst their banks,” the report said. “More than 5,200 homes were damaged.” The report estimated that damages reached “hundreds of millions” of US dollars over the May 05-20 period.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says water damage is now the chief cause of home insurance claims, surpassing fire. Since 2009, insurance companies in Canada has paid on average $400 million per year to home claims, most of which have been caused by floods.