Af­ter the storm

Cen­tral homes rocked by wind­storm

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY ADAM RAN­DELL

Ken Howell has never ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing like it.

The Twill­ingate res­i­dent went to bed on the evening on Nov. 15, and woke up the next morn­ing with his 10 by 20-foot two-story shed ripped from its shores. It had col­lapsed and been pushed against the side of his house, rest­ing on the bridge’s over­hang­ing roof and sid­ing.

Winds had peaked at more than 140 kilo­me­tres per hour in Twill­ingate, and off­shore waves reached 15 me­tres high.

Howell’s shed is a com­plete write off and his house is in need of re­pair.

“It’s very, very un­set­tling, I haven’t had a lot of sleep,” he said in the af­ter­math of the storm. “Now it has to be torn down and hauled away.

“I hope no one else ever has to ex­pe­ri­ence any­thing like this.”

But Howell wasn’t alone, 152 kilo­me­tres east, near Lums­den, Denise Goodyear was left try­ing to sal­vage her cabin.

“As soon as the cabin came in sight we knew there was trou­ble,” she said. “Walk­ing down the path to the cabin my heart sunk and the tears started to flow. The cabin had come off of the shores and had fallen to the ground on one side.”

While there wasn’t any struc­tural dam­age, the heavy log cabin had moved three to four feet.

“The front bridge was a to­tal mess but it looked like ev­ery­thing else was in good or­der. There are 12 win­dows and three doors and thank­fully not a glass was bro­ken. The only thing in­side was the wood stove had slide off its blocks and the stove pipe had bro­ken.”

The next day – Nov. 16 – while not in its orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion, the cabin was jacked up, and re-se­cured.

Goodyear said they are try­ing to keep the cabin from mov­ing again, but, “it’s hard to pre­dict what Mother Na­ture is ca­pa­ble of.”

Pay­out av­er­ages triple

For Hedley Elms, gen­eral man­ager of BELFOR Gan­der, the weather didn’t present any­thing out of the or­di­nary.

“We didn’t see any big in­flux of claims, it was reg­u­lar busi­ness for us,” said Elms, who han­dles in­sur­ance claims from Clarenville to Labrador City.

“We prob­a­bly had 20 claims come through,” he said, adding, much of the re­ported dam­age re­volved around downed trees, miss­ing shin­gles and dam­aged sid­ing.

“That’s prob­a­bly three or four days work for us,” he said. “When you see a big trac­tor­trailer parked in front of our build­ing you know there’s a lot on the go be­cause it’s our dis­as­ter re­lief truck, which is equipped to han­dle 500-800 claims.”

The In­sur­ance Bu­reau of Canada (IBC) said in­sur­ance claims from the re­cent wind storm are still com­ing in. As a re­sult, At­lantic vice-pres­i­dent Amanda Dean said it’s still too early to tell how much dam­age the storm caused.

How­ever, she said, weather re­lated claims in New­found­land and Labrador are be­com­ing more com­mon, as in­sur­ance claim pay­outs have more than tripled in the last 20 years.

Ac­cord­ing to the IBC, from 1997-2001, in­sur­ers paid out, on aver­age, $31 mil­lion per year in per­sonal prop­erty claims in the prov­ince.

From 2012-2016, the aver­age an­nual pay­out has been $98-mil­lion.

“It’s a pretty big jump in weather-re­lated claims,” she said. “A lot of those claims are re­lated to water.”

This would in­clude sewer back­ups, hur­ri­canes, dam­aged roofs, and de­bris break­ing win­dows dur­ing high winds.

With pay­outs in­creas­ing, Dean said it can lead to higher pre­mi­ums, but in­sur­ers want to re­main af­ford­able.

“Some com­pa­nies will ex­pe­ri­ence greater losses than oth­ers, so some com­pa­nies will have to ad­just more so than other com­pa­nies,” she said. “In­sur­ers in­her­ently want to keep their cus­tomers and want to be com­pet­i­tive, so they are try­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep pre­mi­ums low.”

This, Dean said, would in­clude of­fer­ing rec­om­men­da­tions on how to bet­ter pro­tect a prop­erty, such as re­mov­ing de­bris from prop­erty, slop­ing grading so that run off moves away from a foun­da­tion, and know­ing when to re-shin­gle a roof.

“In­sur­ers cer­tainly have seen it all when it comes to home in­sur­ance claims, so we re­ally en­cour­age home own­ers to have the con­ver­sa­tion with their in­sur­ers, their bro­ker or agent, just to see what tips and sug­ges­tions they might have,” she said. “Only home­own­ers know what they have… and some of the risk around their prop­erty. Talk­ing with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive can en­lighten them on how they can best pro­tect them­selves.”

IBC has a toll-free con­sumer in­for­ma­tion line for gen­eral in­for­ma­tion on pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures – 1-844-227-5422 ext. 228

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Strong winds knocked this heavy log cabin, near Lums­den, off its shores Nov 15 Wind gusts through­out the cen­tral New­found­land re­gion peaked in Twill­ingate at 143 kilo­me­tres per hour

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