According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), severe weather was responsible for over $40 million in insured damages in 2019.
While 2019 will most likely be remembered for the historic levels of flooding seen during the spring freshet, New Brunswick saw a large number of severe weather events.
“Last year was one of those years where it was a lot of smaller events,” said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations for the IBC.
In April, flood waters reached a height of 8.35 metres as the Saint John river burst its banks, flooding a large swath of the province for the second year in a row.
The IBC says the freshet accounted for $6 million in insured damages, but much more will be paid as part of the province’s disaster assistance program.
According to Geoffery Downey, the spokesperson for the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, the province has received 480 assistance applications to date, worth about $22 million.
According to the IBC, the damage caused during the freshet is part of a larger trend across the country.
“We’re seeing that water is the new fire, which means that the majority of new claims on property is related to water damage,” Karageorgos said.
“That has been as a result mostly of storms, hurricanes. We do have winter storm events where snow when it melts turns into water and damages homes.”
In January, heavy snows were followed by rains and wind, causing localized flooding, particularly in the Glen Falls area of Saint John. The high winds also pulled roof off an apartment building in Moncton.
The late January storm caused about $11 million in insured damages.
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But the most expensive storm of the year was Hurricane Dorian, that buffered the province with rains and high winds in September.
Dorian caused over $22 million in insured damages and another $26 million in disaster assistance claims.
Boats were trashed as storm surge hit a marina in Shediac, and trees across Saint John were pulled over, including a number in the city’s historic King’s Square.
The IBC is calling on all levels of government to make investments to mitigate weather damage as storms become more frequent, and more powerful over the coming years.
“We’re encouraging government at the provincial and federal levels to take steps to work with homeowners, to work with municipal governments and insurance companies to help mitigate damages as a result of climate change and the severe weather it brings,” Karageorgos said.