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Powerful EF-2 July 15th tornadoes did $75 million in damages: Report

Wednesday, August 18th 2021, 4:49 pm - The strongest tornado, which struck Barrie, left 10 people injured and more than 70 homes uninhabitable.

The six confirmed EF-2 tornadoes to strike southern Ontario on July 15th, including one that did severe damage to a neighbourhood in Barrie, together did around $75 million in insured damages, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The IBC released that figure Wednesday, based on data from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc (CatIQ). The cost includes insured damage estimates from Barrie, Innisfil, Kawartha Lakes, Little Britain, Manilla, Lindsay, and Lake of Bays.

The Barrie tornado, featuring maximum estimated winds of 210 km/h, was the strongest from that day, and in its wake, 10 people were hospitalized, though no deaths were reported.

“We’re beyond thankful that this storm did not lead to any loss of life, which is the most important thing," Kim Donaldson, the IBC's vice-president, Ontario, said in a release. "Homes, cars and businesses can be replaced and fixed, but the same cannot be said of lives.”

Barrie Tornado, July 2021. Courtesy: Marta Czurylowicz Severe damage was reported in one neighbourhood in Barrie (Marta Czurylowicz).

As for the damage, 71 structures were left uninhabitable, and numerous others were damaged to a lesser degree. In all, the IBC says it received some 2,200 claims for damage to homes and businesses from that day.

July was a particularly tornado-filled month for Ontario, which saw around 13 of them confirmed, the lion's share in Canada that month and about its entire annual average.

Though no individual storm can be attributed to human-caused climate change, evidence suggests that certain severe weather events are becoming more common as the world warms. The IBC says Canadian governments need to prepare for that eventuality.

"Canada must develop a comprehensive plan to close governance gaps and improve climate defence overall, including enhancements to the current building code to protect against severe wind events," the IBC says.


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