As Calgarians continue to recover from Saturday’s thunderstorm, which led to severe flooding and damage in parts of the city, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said help will be made available to affected residents when it comes to filing insurance claims.
“We are really in a place where the damage is extraordinary,” Nenshi said in a news conference Monday afternoon. “We are looking carefully at our social supports to make sure that people have what they need.
“We’re working on things in terms of assisting with language barriers and helping people with their documents.”
Nenshi said that while the overall damages of Saturday’s storm are still being estimated, he hopes the provincial and federal governments will step up to help.
“To me, this absolutely meets the criteria and requirements of a natural disaster, and what that means is the federal and provincial government come to the aid of the city,” Nenshi said.
NDP leader Rachel Notely also spoke out on the storm, taking to Twitter on Monday to express Calgary’s need for financial assistance due to the damage.
Nenshi added that the city is exploring disaster relief funding and is currently in talks with the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Saturday’s thunderstorm brought with it torrential rain and hail, causing flash flooding in the city, with Calgary’s northeast seeing the most damaging effects.
Several semi trucks and cars became stuck in pooling waters on the city’s roads, while houses, vehicles and structures saw significant hail damage.
During the press conference, Sampson noted that Saturday’s storm had the largest hail recorded in Calgary, with pellets up to 61 millimeters — the size of a tennis ball — raining down on the city.
He added that, over the weekend, CEMA responded to many calls for service, including sewage backup, manhole and storm pond concerns and debris on sidewalks.
“The majority of emergency and standard service requests have been dealt with,” Sampson said.
Sampson added that 15,000 customers in the city were left without power due to the storm.
On Monday, Calgary Police Service deputy chief Chad Tawfik said on Saturday, police responded to 74 calls for service related to the storm, including residents being trapped in vehicles, lightning strikes and flooded roadways.
Tawfik added that numerous CPS facilities and 40 CPS vehicles sustained significant damage from flooding and hail.
“All buildings remained operational… We don’t have a full damage estimate yet,” Tawfik said.
According to Calgary Fire Department chief Steven Dongworth, 23 water rescues were also conducted during the storm.
“Luckily we saw no injuries,” Dongworth said.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada said it is also still assessing the damage the storm has caused, but noted that over the last five years, Alberta has racked up more than $1 billion in damages due to extreme weather. However, officials said the industry is well equipped to deal with these kind of claims.
“It’s still too early to determine the damage,” Rob De Puis with IBC said.
“Typically an event like this would not have a significant impact on premiums because the insurance industry is well-capitalized for these types of events.”
During a discussion with city council on Monday morning, Nenshi noted that he believes more homes were damaged over the weekend than during the 2013 flood, which saw 80,000 Calgarians forced out of their homes.
Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Calgary on Saturday at 6:37 p.m. It was later cancelled just before 8 p.m.
Much of the province was also placed under a severe thunderstorm watch earlier in the day, and a tornado warning was issued in southern Alberta on Saturday evening.