Alberta floods breaking records

IBC offers flooding tips and information on insurance policies

Alberta’s floods have broken records that were set less than 10 years ago. Alberta Premier Alison Redford confirms the flooding in southern Alberta is the worst the province has ever seen — and it’s not over yet.

The hardest hit community has been High River where all 13,000 residents are still waiting to hear when they can go home.

In Calgary, some of the 65,000 residents who’ve been allowed back into their homes are stunned by the flood damage they’re seeing.

Read: Medicine Hat braces itself as South Saskatchewan River crests Monday

Parts of the downtown core are still submerged and all schools remain closed.

University of Alberta hydrologist Uldis Silins says flow levels in southern Alberta rivers submerged all records by a wide margin last Thursday.

He says the Elbow River near Bragg Creek was 66% higher than it was in the 2005 flood, which was considered a 100-year event in many places in that watershed.

Silins says the torrents were the result of a weather system that was moving slowly, covering a wide area and releasing an unusually large amount of rain–up to 180 millimetres over 16 hours in some areas. That was so much rain that soils on the eastern slopes of the Rockies couldn’t soak it up.

Read: Calgary cleanup; will the Stampede go ahead?

On Sunday, dumpsters lined the streets of Calgary’s flood-damaged neighbourhoods as residents ripped out soggy drywall and squishy carpets.

About 65,000 Calgarians have been allowed to go home to check out the damage. Elsewhere, thousands of others are still waiting.

In hard-hit High River, Mayor Emile Blokland is pleading with evacuated residents to be patient.

Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths says about two dozen communities remain under states of emergency.

Read: Is it time to revisit flood coverage?

With much of Calgary and many areas of southern Alberta affected by the flooding, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reminding homeowners of their insurance coverage.

“It’s important to take preventative action against flooding because damage caused by overland flooding is not covered by home insurance policies anywhere in Canada,” said Bill Adams, VP, Western and Pacific Region, Insurance Bureau of Canada, in a press release.

“However, some damage may be the result of sewer back-up. Coverage for this type of damage is available, but must be purchased as an add-on to a home insurance policy.”

Read: Mapping floods from space

3 tips to protect your valuables:

  • Move valuable items from the basement to upper floors. Do not stack wet items on dry items just to get them off the floor.
  • Dry the flooded area within a few days to prevent mould growth. Industrial-sized air dryers are often used in these instances and are typically available for purchase or rent at one of the major hardware stores.
  • If the water is from a freshwater source, quickly retrieve from the flooded area any valuables. If the flood source originates from the septic system, avoid contact with the water and do not cross-contaminate unaffected areas by walking in and out of the contaminated areas.

5 facts about insurance policies:

  • Sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes and appliances is covered by home insurance policies. However, damage may not be covered when freezing causes the escape of water.
  • Water damage in a basement due to a sewer backup is only covered if specific sewer backup coverage has been purchased.
  • In certain circumstances, homeowners who are unable to return home due to insurable damage are entitled to additional living expenses (this coverage is not available if an evacuation happened due to overland flooding).
  • Damage to vehicles from water is usually covered on an auto insurance policy if comprehensive or all perils coverage has been purchased. This coverage is not mandatory, so check your policy.
  • Overland flooding resulting in water overflowing onto dry land and causing damage is not covered in home insurance policies in Canada. (Speak to your insurance representative for more information on how you can protect your home).

IBC’s Consumer Information Centre in Alberta, 1-800-377-6378 is available to answer any insurance questions consumers may have.

With files from The Canadian Press

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