September 19, 2003 by Canadian Underwriter
The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) has called on Ontarians to take appropriate damage mitigation actions as southern Ontario awaits the arrival of Hurricane Isabel which is expected to move into the region by midday Friday. Although the hurricane is expected to lose much of its momentum and intensity as it moves deeper inland, the storm will likely drop up to 70ml. of rain in certain areas.
Hurricane Isabel appears to be tracking a similar course to Hurricane Hazel, which struck the greater Toronto area in 1954, causing widespread damage mostly resulting from flooding. The ICLR notes that “the time to prepare is long before the storm hits”. Typically, people should ensure that lawn furniture is safely stored away and that any dead or damaged tree branches that could pose a threat are removed. “When this kind of storm hits central Canada, the major threat is not wind but rain, and lots of it is expected over the next couple of days,” says Paul Kovacs, executive director of the ICLR.
Kovacs says that Ontarians should prepare for possible flooding in low-lying areas, where basements are typically at risk of water seepage. “If possible, valuable property that’s stored in a basement should be relocated.” Although the threat of Hurricane Isabel has caught the attention of insurers, Kovacs notes that, as a society, the region is better prepared today to deal with the effects of extreme weather than had been the case when Hurricane Hazel hit 49 years ago. “As a society, we learned a lot from Hazel and took the necessary steps to move homes and businesses out of harm’s way. These investments in infrastructure have lessened the impact of severe weather on our society over the years.”