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Toronto's July flood ranked as most costly natural disaster in Ontario history

(The Canadian Press)

(The Canadian Press)

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    Thursday, August 15, 2013, 10:36 AM -

    In just a matter of hours, heavy rain flooded parts of Toronto, setting a record for "Ontario insured damages arising from a single natural disaster," the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) confirmed this week. 

    "It is really, probably the most intense, wettest moment in Toronto's history," Environment Canada senior climatologist David Philips said of the intense July 8 storm. "No infrastructure could handle this...you just have to accept the fact that you're going to be flooded." 

    Two separate storm cells moved over the city at the same time, and then stalled over Toronto for hours.

    "It's almost like Toronto was a target with a bull's eye," Phillips said. 

    Roads and underpasses were under water, while subway, bus and streetcar services were brought to a halt, creating travel chaos for the evening commute.

    Hours later, residents arrived home to deal with flooded basements and leaking windows. 

    According to a report from IBC, the preliminary estimate of insured property damage caused by this thunderstorm is more than $850 million. 

    “While these preliminary estimates are staggering, we do expect them to go even higher," said Ralph Palumbo, IBC Vice-President for Ontario in a media release Wednesday. "The good news is that our industry was well prepared to handle our obligations to customers.” 

    Since IBC and The PCS-Canada Service started collecting data on insured losses caused by extreme weather events in Ontario, the following events have been ranked as the most expensive:

    • July 8-9, 2013 – $850 million (wind and thunderstorm event) 
    • Aug 19, 2005 – $671 million (wind/rain storm)*
    • July 24-28, 2009 – $ 228 million (heavy rain)*

    *expressed in 2012 dollars.

    "Damage caused by more frequent severe weather is just another situation our members must prepare for," warns Palumbo. 

    IBC says they do not have a preliminary estimate of insured damages for the Alberta floods as work continues on the ground and tabulations are changing almost daily.

    With files from The Canadian Press

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