Hurricane Fiona is estimated to have caused $660 million in insured damages, according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ), making it the costliest extreme weather event ever recorded in Atlantic Canada.
Landfalling on September 24th, Fiona also represents the tenth largest event in Canada in terms of insured damages – surpassing the 2011 Slave Lake wildfire, analysts note.
With maximum wind gusts exceeding 100 km/h in Atlantic Canada and Eastern Quebec, the storm brought violent winds, torrential rainfall, large waves, storm surge, downed trees and widespread power outages.
Although the estimated $660 million in insured damage is a record-breaking figure, CatIQ observes many affected residents were located in high-risk flood areas and floodplains where residential flood insurance coverage is not available.
As a result, the overwhelming majority of costs for this disaster will be borne by government.
“As we begin to see the extent of damages caused by Hurricane Fiona, it is clear that much more needs to be done to enhance our resilience to extreme weather events and build a culture of preparedness moving forward,” said Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Atlantic, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
“Climate change is real, and the fatalities, emotional turmoil and financial consequences we’ve witnessed must be a call to action – we must prioritize the protection of all Canadians from the impacts of climate change.”
Insurance claims from severe weather have more than quadrupled across Canada since 2008, and the new normal for insured catastrophic damages in Canada has reached $2 billion annually.
The largest share of Fiona’s damages were experienced in Nova Scotia, where CatIQ estimates that insured losses will total $385 million.
Here, damage to trees was widespread, with numerous large trees falling on cars and buildings in Halifax, while cluding extensive flooding, roofs torn off buildings, roads washed out and storm surge also impacted Cape Breton Island and Pictou County.
A significant share of losses were also recorded in Prince Edward Island, where houses were moved off their foundations by storm surge and roofs were torn off buildings by wind. CatIQ estimates insured damages for this area at more than $220 million.
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