4 months after devastating $1.5B hailstorm, northeast Calgary homeowners still waiting on help
Members of council toured the area on Thanksgiving Monday, to see the damage that still hasn't been fixed
Four months after a hailstorm battered homes in northeast Calgary, less than half of the 70,000 insurance claims have been resolved, according to the area's city councillor.
The June hailstorm was the fourth costliest natural disaster in Canada's history, with an estimated price tag of nearly $1.5 billion.
On Monday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Coun. George Chahal, their council colleagues as well as NDP MLA Irfan Sabir toured the neighbourhood to survey the damage that still hasn't been repaired, from shredded siding to smashed windows.
"Our beautiful autumn weather seems to have turned, which reminds us that winter is coming. And it reminds us that there are a lot of people whose homes are not ready for the winter. And it really is incumbent on all of us, and particularly on the government of Alberta, to be doing what they can to be helping people through these very difficult times," said Nenshi.
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Northeast Calgary resident Louie Adriano said his home saw more than $20,000 in damage to its siding, roof, windows and door.
"During the summertime we can't even open our windows, mosquitos would be coming in, so we had to put cardboard to keep it closed," he said. "It's cold now, so not much a problem for that, no more mosquitos, but it's very cold at night."
Adriano was able to make an insurance claim, but said he's unsure if his home will be fixed before winter, as contractors have been so busy in the neighbourhood.
The provincial government has provided disaster relief funding to residents who experienced overland flooding, but not for hail damage or insurance deductibles, the primary issues for the majority of people impacted.
An Insurance Bureau of Canada spokesperson said in an emailed statement that insurers are working on processing 100,000 claims from four weather events in Alberta this spring and summer.
"In Calgary, we understand that the majority of inspections are completed and many claims have closed but the work continues," the bureau said.
Calgary's northeast is home to many newcomers to Canada, and Nenshi said many in the area already hit hard by the struggling economy have had issues navigating the insurance system, while others are underinsured.
"Right now these are not ordinary times and for the governments to say, listen, if you didn't have insurance it's not our problem. And even if you did have insurance and you're trying to navigate the system, we're not really there to help you, it's not fair. It's not right," he said.
He said he'd like to see the province help residents navigate the insurance process, and provide financial assistance to those in greatest need.
"You know, it's hard to deal with insurance companies. And if you're English as a second language or you're worried about the pandemic or your family has not been able to come back because they've been stuck in India, I mean, these are very serious problems," he said.
"Ultimately, I'd like to see a program here that's based on financial need."
Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said it's likely systemic racism has played a part in the difficulty community members have had in accessing support.
"Systemic racism is absolutely a thing — 36 per cent of Calgarians are BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, people of colour ... it [is] undeniable that there is a different relationship for one-third of our population. And I cannot stand by and suggest that the slow approach to addressing the issues up here is not part of that systemic racism," he said.
With files from Helen Pike