Victims of Calgary hailstorm launch convoy to Edmonton to demand provincial aid

Click to play video: 'Calgary ‘hail convoy’ demands financial assistance following devastating June storm'
Calgary ‘hail convoy’ demands financial assistance following devastating June storm
WATCH: A group of Calgarians hit the road on Wednesday to demonstrate on the steps of the Alberta legislature. As Tracy Nagai reports, the group is demanding more support from all three levels of government following last month’s damaging hail storm – Jul 22, 2020

Some of the northeast Calgary residents whose homes suffered extensive damage in last month’s powerful hailstorm travelled to Edmonton on Wednesday to demand assistance from the provincial government.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says the June 13 storm caused at least $1.2 billion in insured damages, making it the fourth-most expensive insured natural disaster in Canadian history.

During the storm, hail as big as tennis balls shredded vinyl siding, pounded roofs and smashed windows in several northeast Calgary communities.

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In a Tuesday news release, the Hailstorm Action Committee said residents living in the affected communities are “fed up waiting for a response from Premier Jason Kenney.”

“The hailstorm has caused enormous financial and mental distress to residents in northeast Calgary who are already coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, economic turmoil and job losses,” spokesperson Khalil Karbani said.

“We need immediate help to deal with a storm that has fundamentally changed people’s lives.”

The Wednesday convoy organized by the Hailstorm Action Committee left Calgary shortly after 8 a.m. and planned to hold a demonstration on the steps of the Alberta legislature from noon until 1 p.m.

Prabhjot Sandhu poses for a photo in Calgary before driving to Edmonton to attend a rally at the Alberta legislature on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, asking for the provincial government to assist Calgarians impacted by a devastating June 13 hailstorm. Global News / Matthew Conrod

The group says it is asking Kenney to:

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  • Convene a roundtable with community leaders and three levels of government to develop a plan
  • Make a formal application to the federal government for Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements
  • Provide confirmation that residents’ insurance premiums will not spike due to the storm

In late June, Kenney said the UCP government would be expediting a relief package to cover uninsurable damages, losses and costs incurred by Calgary, Airdrie and Rocky View County.

He added that most damage to homes and vehicles will be covered by private insurance companies.

Click to play video: 'Calgarians hit by June storm launch convoy to legislature to ask for provincial help'
Calgarians hit by June storm launch convoy to legislature to ask for provincial help

“We will be working with the City of Calgary on the details of the disaster relief program response and funding,” Kenney said, adding that municipalities affected by the storm have to submit applications under the disaster relief program that include an estimate of the repairs needed to municipal infrastructure, as well as any costs for emergency response and potential payments to support those with uninsurable private property damages.

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Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley joined Calgary residents affected by a severe hailstorm on the steps of the Alberta legislature Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Morris Gamblin, Global News

Residents living in the impacted communities have already sent a letter to Kenney asking for provincial assistance in repairing the damages caused by the storm.

At the time, Karbani​, who was one the residents behind the letter, said while the funding is appreciated, it won’t help the majority of residents in the area dealing with the aftermath of the storm. He said residents in the affected communities want more funding to close the gap in their insurance coverage.

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On Wednesday, the province was unable to provide updated numbers on how many Calgarians had received assistance through the Disaster Recovery Program.

“Albertans pay for insurance and rely on it in situations just like these. Hail damage is covered by insurance,” Municipal Affairs press secretary Timothy Gerwing said.

“Insurers have so far processed over 70,000 claims and are paying out over $1.2 billion — even more than the initial estimates of $1 billion.”

Gerwing added that the Disaster Recovery Program was approved to cover uninsurable losses such as overland flooding.

– With files from Global News’ Tracy Nagai

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