Canadian Underwriter
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Alberta, Ontario struck by tornadoes


August 1, 2000   by Canadian Underwriter


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The aftermath of tornado action in late July left massive damage in parts of Alberta and southern Ontario – the insured cost of which is likely to run into millions of dollars. As a result, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has once again called on the federal and provincial governments to invest in disaster mitigation.

Alan Wood, vice president of IBC’s prairie region says, while little can be done to stop the destruction caused by tornadoes, there are steps which can be taken to mitigate the subsequent damage. Last month a tornado touched down at a campground located at Alberta’s Pine Lake, causing between $10 to $15 million in damage, and leaving more than 100 people injured with at least eleven dead. The Ontario funnel clouds, which struck Guelph and Waterdown several weeks later, were less severe and caused roof damage to about 45 homes. Only minor bodily injuries were reported. Most recently, a number of tornadoes cut a destructive trail across Manitoba, at least one of the funnels reaching within 30 kilometers of Winnipeg. The Manitoba damages are still being accessed.

The insurance industry has the expertise to assist government in mitigating such losses, comments Wood. Solutions range from erecting storm shelters in areas prone to tornado action to requiring earthquake and hail-proof structures where appropriate. Within its new infrastructure spending plan, “the federal government needs to recognize that infrastructure means more than new roads. It means storm sewers, flood preparation and the like,” he adds.