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Fort McMurray Recovers: Final costs of the wildfire disaster total $3.58 billion

By Ben N.  •  My Insurance Broker
Jul 9th, 2016 at 12:19 pm  •  Richmond Hill, ON

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Fort McMurray's Wildfire Devastation and Total Cost Image Source.

Fort McMurray made international headlines in May when the nearly 600,000 hectare wildfire burned through neighborhoods of the small city and much of Northern Alberta, while spreading to Western Saskatchewan; making it one of the costliest natural disasters in Canadian history.

"Two days after the Fort McMurray wildfire turned Bruce Thompson’s mobile home into a pile of ash and rubble, he called his insurer to report the damage, despondent as he described a life’s worth of possessions gone in seconds” (Johnson & Williams, 2016).

While Fort McMurray residents try to recover from the merciless wildfire which caused massive residential and environmental devastation and engulfed parts of the city over a month ago, a plethora of additional problems battered this helpless city. Environmental damage, administrative issues, and financial setbacks were the additional problems that burdened residents eager to return and rebuild their lives.

Communities are slowly returning to the city. Fort McMurray suffered added damage from flooding, with up to 47 millimeters of rain (Lamoureux, 2016) and over 50 millimeters falling within a 24-hour period on June 9 (Morin, 2016). Rain after a month long wildfire has received a mixed response, some were relieved because it may have allowed fire to burn out, but for others, they were unhappy because of extensive flooding and water damage.

"While some welcomed the rain, it brought back stressful memories of the summer of 2013 for [residents like] Thomas Jackson” (Lamoureux, 2016).

The other issues that plagued the small city included the early reprieve of 300 South African firefighters, who headed back to South Africa after a wage dispute with the Alberta government; whereby the provincial government was supposed to pay approximately $170 per day plus expenses, however, many firefighters claimed they were never compensated (Ramsay, 2016).

To top it all off, many residents of the fire-ravaged city are now claiming that their home insurance providers are devaluing their coverage claims, with some alleging that their insurers are only willing to pay about a third of the value of their damaged or destroyed property and possessions.

"The broker made the situation worse. Insurance would only pay him roughly $60,000 for his possessions, about a third of the appraised value” (Johnson & Williams, 2016).

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBAO) has pegged the final damage from the wildfire at $3.58 billion, the costliest disaster in Canadian history (Global News, 2016).

As of June 30, the Provincial State of Emergency imposed because of the wildfire in Northern Alberta is lifted (Update 4: Wood Buffalo wildfire recovery (June 30 at 3:00 pm)). Relief efforts are gradual and the return to normal life for Fort McMurray residents remains questionable.

My Insurance Broker (MIB) continues to support all rebuilding efforts in Fort McMurray and is proud sponsor, having donated $5,000 for recovery and relief efforts. MIB is also the proud partner of Aviva Canada and Intact Insurance for their help in funding relief efforts in the city.

Fort McMurray made international headlines in May when the nearly 600,000 hectare wildfire burned… one of the costliest natural disasters in Canadian history.

The total extent of Fort McMurray's wildfire tabulated Image Source.
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References

Caley Ramsay (2016). 300 South African firefighters to leave Fort McMurray early after wage dispute. As retrieved June 13, 2016 from http://globalnews.ca/news/2752183/300-south-african-firefighters-to-leave-fort-mcmurray-early-after-wage-dispute/
Eric M. Johnson, Nia Williams (2016). Fort McMurray Fire Victims Feel Insurance Squeeze. As retrieved June 13, 2016 from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/fort-mcmurray-fire-victims-feel-insurance-squeeze/article30363823/
Mack Lamoureux (2016). Fort McMurray, still recovering from wildfire, dealing with flooding. As retrieved June 13, 2016 from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/fort-mcmurray-flooding-1.3627131
Margeaux Morin (2016). Heavy rain in Fort McMurray creates hazardous conditions, prompts rainfall warning. As retrieved June 13, 2016 from http://globalnews.ca/news/2753119/heavy-rain-in-fort-mcmurray-creates-hazardous-conditions-prompts-rainfall-warning/?utm_source=Article&utm_medium=MostPopular&utm_campaign=2014
Update 4: Wood Buffalo wildfire recovery (June 30 at 3:00 pm). As retrieved July 7, 2016 from http://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=4292755C48F66-F699-FE35-6208390C990D8594.
Global News (2016). Fort McMurray wildfire: $3.6B in damage, says Insurance Bureau of Canada. As retrieved July 7, 2016 from http://globalnews.ca/news/2808805/fort-mcmurray-wildfire-cost-of-damage-from-alberta-disaster-to-be-released/?sf30462329=1.