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Residents clean up after hail wreaks havoc on Airdrie

By: Christina Waldner

  |  Posted: Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 11:28 am

Mayor Peter Brown (seen here), Deputy Mayor Allan Hunter and Economic Development Team Lead Kent Rupert helped Airdrie resident Joyce Boyd clean debris from her deck in the Village on Aug. 8 after a massive hail storm hit the Airdrie area on Aug. 7.
Mayor Peter Brown (seen here), Deputy Mayor Allan Hunter and Economic Development Team Lead Kent Rupert helped Airdrie resident Joyce Boyd clean debris from her deck in the Village on Aug. 8 after a massive hail storm hit the Airdrie area on Aug. 7.
CHRISTINA WALDNER/Rocky View Publishing

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For the second time in as many months, Airdrie and the surrounding area felt the wrath of Mother Nature on Aug. 7 as thunder, lightning and hail rolled through the region over a seven-hour period from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Many residents reported on the Airdrie City View Facebook page and Twitter feed that they had substantial damage to their homes, vehicles and yards. The City of Airdrie is also cleaning up after roads flooded when debris jammed the sewer system, and trees and shrubs in City parks were shredded.

RCMP said they responded to 24 calls for service between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. including motor vehicle accidents and responses to alarms.

The most serious incident involved a five-vehicle collision on Yankee Valley Blvd. Airdrie RCMP Cst. Jason Curtis said the five vehicles rear-ended each other though he could not say why the accident occurred.

The Airdrie Fire Department was called to extricate an occupant from one of the vehicles because the car’s frame had become so bent, it was impossible to open the door, according to Curtis. Despite the number of vehicles involved, there were no injuries.

Curtis said RCMP had received some enquiries from the public regarding whether or not they would need to request a damage sticker.

“We don’t issue damage stickers for hail,” said Curtis.

“The stickers (are issued for a motor vehicle collision) and prove that you’ve actually attended a police station and didn’t just crash into someone and didn’t report it.”

Stickers are required by for damage over $2,000, according to Curtis.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is categorizing the Aug. 7 hail storm as a “catastrophic event.”

“We don’t have exact figures at this point, as the claims are still coming in, but we (foresee) the damage to total more than $25 million,” said Heather Mac, director of Government Relations with IBC.

Mac explained the storm caused some of the highest amount of damage recorded for the Airdrie area.

“Looking back, in 2012 the Calgary and Airdrie areas were hit with a big hail storm, which caused $562 million in damage,” Mac said. “If you go back as far as 2007/8 there is recorded damage of $20 million, so this past storm is certainly one of the highest.”

Kathryn Zondag, a resident of Edgewater in Airdrie’s southwest, described the siding on her home as looking like “Swiss cheese” after the storm.

Still, she’s taking the damage in stride.

“It’s just stuff, right?” she said. “We got pretty severely hit. The right tail light of my van got smashed out. We’re in a duplex and the side of our garage looks like Swiss cheese and the other half of the duplex, the whole north side is just tons of cracks and holes. We both just had new roofs within the last two years, so we’ll see what insurance does on that.”

Zondag said her young children, aged three years and eight months, were woken up by the first storm that hit around 4 p.m.

“They were really freaked out,” she said. “They were both down for a nap when it happened and both of them woke up and started screaming.”

She’s called her insurance broker, who put her in touch with the claims department but she has yet to hear back from them.

Airdrie resident Jack Lumley was lamenting the state of his three-month-old truck after he was caught on Highway 2 when he was heading out to do an errand.

“All of a sudden somebody threw a 90 mile-an-hour fastball at my truck and cracked the window,” he said.

“And then I’m not kidding you, I have to have 400 dents in my truck. A solid steel econo cover just got thrashed in my truck.”

Lumley lives in Bayside and also has an investment home in Edgewater.

“I have a rental unit that got thrashed big time; broken windows and the whole nine yards,” he said.

Lumley has called his insurance provider.

“The guy told me they’d get back to me in a business day, (and then said) ‘but boy, there’s a lot of claims in Airdrie, so it could be a couple of days,’” he said.

Like Zondag, Lumley maintained a good sense of humour about the storm.

“My neighbour and I were actually watching (the storm), and what was happening was it was circling back,” he said. “It would hit us, and it would head kind of southie-eastie and then it would turn around and head northie-westie.”

Mayor Peter Brown, along with Deputy Mayor Allan Hunter and Economic Development Team Lead Kent Rupert went out to do their part, Aug. 8, helping an elderly resident clear debris from her roof and yard in the Village community.

Joyce Boyd’s home and yard on Centre Ave. was covered in shredded foliage.

Brown likened the situation in Airdrie to last year’s extensive flooding in Southern Alberta.

“The best part about this is it’s the same as it was last year in High River,” he said. “When things go wrong and neighbours need help, it’s just a great community to live in. People respond to Facebook posts and show up to help seniors. It’s just awesome.”

Brown said he was surprised by how extensive the storm was.

“I travelled the community last night (Aug. 7) with Deputy Mayor Hunter and we saw from the east side to the west side lots of damage to cars, lots of damage to homes, so it was really widespread,” he said.

The City has posted information for residents in the wake of the storm such as where to dispose of garbage and debris on the website

Brown said he was pleased by his staff’s response.

“Last night (Aug. 7) we had crews out, trying to free up some of the debris caught up in our storm system and today we’re out in full force; you see parks crews everywhere,” he said.

“I don’t believe there’s much standing water left in the city.”

“I know there are some people who have been feeling uncomfortable. I’d encourage them to call Heathlink if they’re not feeling well, or call the City if you need a hand with anything,” he added.

Local Airdrie Realtor, Terri Stephens of CIR Realty, said even if a homeowner can’t see any damage, they should still take steps to ensure something they don’t see doesn’t become a problem.

“I would recommend that you call your insurance, because it’s hard to see if there’s any damage because obviously we’re not the experts,” she explained. “I would probably put your name in the queue and say that you’re concerned that there may be (damage). They would come out and do an appraisal or send an adjuster out to look at the property.”

Lori McRitchie, executive director of the Airdrie Food Bank, said their current building had been damaged in the storm.

“We’ve got some damage. I’ve filed a claim already,” said McRitchie. “The skylight and some of the siding (has been damaged) and I’m sure the roof is toast.”

McRitchie said their new building, into which they will be moving the week of Aug. 18, did not sustain any damage.

“The No. 1 thing for us, obviously, was that no one was hurt,” said Brown. “Our emergency services personnel were out all the time. They were on top of things despite the huge call volumes after 4 p.m.”


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