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Could take months to get 'back to normal' on Salt Spring Island, following December storm

Last Updated Jan 2, 2019 at 1:40 pm PDT

(Source: Twitter/@BCHydro)
Summary

Over 100 insurance claims on Salt Spring Island, following last month's storm

Most claims related to trees falling on buildings and water damage

SALT SPRING ISLAND (NEWS 1130) – Fallen trees, water damage, and disruption to business. Those are just a few of the things people on Salt Spring Island are dealing with, in the aftermath of a massive storm last month.

Doug Guedes with SeaFirst Insurance Brokers says they have received over 100 claims. For a community of just over 10,000 people, that’s a lot.

“By the time I had gotten to the office, I’d been told there was over 23 claims that had been filed that morning. In the subsequent days, we’ve had another 80 or so … I was surprised by that number, for sure.”

He says most claims were related to trees falling on buildings and water damage after rooves were damaged.

“I was driving around the island and we saw at least 20 trees leaning on power lines … right beside the road,” Guedes said.

RELATED: December storm on the South Coast ‘most damaging’ in BC Hydro history

There were also a lot of claims stemming from extended power outages, which meant spoiled food or the inability for businesses to operate.

“It doesn’t take much for these significant losses to be in the $50,000-$100,000 range especially because power has taken so long to restore.”

But so far, there are no “catastrophic” losses.

“There were quite a few close calls, where people who had just moved out of a room or had slept somewhere else on an off-chance… trees had fallen on trailers and completely totalled the trailers. There were a lot of close calls, but thank God no one really suffered serious injury,” Guedes said.

“Things will be back to normal in, I’d say, one or two months. But the final clean-ups and actual claim payment and repairs — we’re talking six months away.”

BC Hydro says the Dec. 20 windstorm was the “most damaging” in history. At its peak, more than three quarters of a million customers were without power. A report from the utility suggests the storm’s impacts were greater than the windstorm that hit in Aug. 2015. It was also more impactful than the windstorm in 2006 that swept across Vancouver Island and “devastated Stanley Park.”

A total of about 1,900 spans of wire, 390 power poles, 700 cross arms, and about 230 transformers were damaged.

RELATED: Person trapped on broken White Rock Pier rescued

Guedes is impressed with how patient and understanding the community on Salt Spring Island has been.

“They understood that there were going to have to be priorities placed on who would get claims service first and how much patience they would have to show in dealing with waiting their turn. The best thing is they understood that other people might have been worse off than them. They were very understanding.”

“Things will be back to normal in, I’d say, one or two months. But the final clean-ups and actual claim payment and repairs — we’re talking six months away.”

 – With files from Lasia Kretzel and Simon Druker