Toronto flooding could be one of city’s costliest CATs

Officials received more than 1,000 reports of flooded basements: Aon Benfield weekly CAT report

The thunderstorms that brought record rainfall across the greater Toronto metropolitan region on July 8 caused one of Toronto’s costliest natural disasters, according to Aon Benfield.

Aon Benfield’s weekly CAT report states that, “an official from the Insurance Bureau of Canada indicated that insurance payouts could rival the $625 million incurred in August 2005 from a flooding and high wind event across southern Ontario. If verified, this would become one of the costliest natural disaster events in Toronto’s history.”

Read: Can overland flood ever become insurable in Canada?

The thunderstorms prompted significant flooding and power outages, but no fatalities or serious injuries were reported.

The excessive rainfall led to extensive flooding throughout the Toronto metro region. Public transportation was heavily impacted as high water levels led to a shutdown of several main public transit lines, including all subway service.

In one instance, emergency officials were forced to use small inflatable boats to rescue more than 1,400 GO Transit passengers who were stranded on a northbound train. Several feet (meters) of water on roads and underpasses also forced hundreds of people to flee their vehicles. Residential and commercial damage was widespread as well, with floodwaters inundating lower levels of structures. Local officials received more than 1,000 homeowner reports of flooded basements.

Read: When the water rises, what’s covered? 

In terms of power outages, an estimated 500,000 customers in southern Ontario lost electricity at the peak of the event due to flooding and gusty winds. At least 300,000 Hydro One customers lost electricity in the Toronto region after the basements of two major transmission stations were inundated with floodwaters. Power outages at a terminal at Toronto’s downtown City Airport led to the cancellation of dozens of flights.

Given the on-going nature of assessments, it remains too early to provide an absolute financial cost to Monday’s event.

Prolonged heavy rainfall also brought flooding across nearly every section of China last week, as the fresh floods led to the deaths of at least 53 people. Dozens of others remain listed as missing. The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) reported that as many as 250 counties in 32 provincial regions had sustained damage after tremendous rainfall fell between July 7 and 11.

Read: Alberta flooding – Canada’s worst ever nat CAT?

Heavy monsoon rainfall spawned additional flooding across India as well, killing at least 120 people in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Officials from the state meteorological agency reported that the heaviest rains associated with an advancing monsoon trough occurred last Tuesday and Wednesday, as rainfall amounts during the 48-hour period neared 90 millimeters (3.54 inches). This prompted several rivers to overflow their banks, including the Ghagra, Saryu and Sharda.

State officials suggested that more than 700 villages had been inundated, with the heaviest affected districts being Lakhimpur (150 villages flooded) and Bijnore (130 villages flooded). As many as 1 million people have been forced from their homes. Beyond the property damage, transportation has been severely disrupted due to major impacts to infrastructure. Many major bridges have been destroyed.

Further damage assessments from the magnitude-6.1 earthquake that struck Indonesia’s Aceh Province on July 2 revealed a larger scope of structural damage than initially reported. The death toll rose to 39 and more than 2,362 others were injured. Six people remain listed as missing. The tremor occurred at 2:37 PM local time (7:37 UTC) on July 2 with an epicenter 55 kilometers (34 miles) south of Bireun, Indonesia at a depth of 10.0 kilometers (6.2 miles). Some areas felt shaking ranging between 15 to 45 seconds.

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