'Maybe even a billion dollars worth of damage': City of Calgary assessing fallout from devastating weekend storm
CALGARY -- Soon after a massive hail storm swept over the city on Saturday evening, Coun. George Chahal began assessing the damage in his northeast Calgary ward and says he was shocked by what he saw.
Siding had been completely torn away from several homes and a number of vehicles had windows smashed out in the communities of Falconridge and Taradale.
"I've never seen so much damage within a block of homes," he said. "Siding shredded, eavestroughs, downspouts damaged and broken. I think every car on the block had windows broken. Severe damage, hail damage to the vehicles and everybody was out in the street cleaning up."
From there, Chahal moved to the community of Saddleridge, which was also hard hit.
"It looked like we got hit by a snowstorm," he said. "In some places there was about two feet of what looked like snow, (it was) hail, ice. In other areas there was water and flooding ... I knew it was very severe."
The community of Martindale was turned into what Chahal called, "lakefront property which it was never intended to be."
"In Ward 5, every community, every block has been impacted," he said. "When we see siding, sometimes we don't see the eavestroughs or the downspouts that have been beaten up, or the damage that occurs with broken windows."
Hundreds of cars were also left abandoned on city roadways and officials said about 300 storm drains were clogged, resulting in flooding.
"I think it’s pretty clear that more homes were damaged here than were damaged in the 2013 flood," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said during Monday's council meeting.
"And, in fact, I would be very shocked if this isn’t a Top 5 insurable cost event in the history of Canada.”
It wasn't until Sunday morning that Chahal said the full extent of damage was visible.
"The northern communities of Cornerstone, Redstone, Cityscape, you could see blocks of cars just damaged, broken, I've never seen that in my life, being born and raised in the city of Calgary," he said. "That such a powerful and destructive storm could do so much damage in such little time."
Chahal estimated the damage will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more than a billion dollars.
Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sampson encouraged Calgarians to clear debris from storm drains whenever possible, and to call 311 if they see a plugged drain that they aren't able to clear.
Sampson said the city is looking into making a disaster assistance application to the province.
For the last few years, Chahal said his constituents have used the annual Neighbour Day — started after the 2013 floods as a way to recognize and encourage the efforts of Calgarians helping those around them rebuild — as a community cleanup. And this year will be no different.
"We do have a big task ahead of us and I'm just thankful and fortunate we have a great team here at the city, we have great residents across Calgary and in Ward 5 who band together," he said.
Neighbour Day is set for Saturday, June 20 in Calgary.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city will be looking at setting up supports to help Calgarians dealing with insurance claims.