Property damage from Texas hurricane will likely reach tens of billions of dollars

Canadians in Texas report witnessing rising water levels, "upside down" houses

Property damage from Hurricane Harvey will likely be counted in the tens of billions of dollars. Damage from flooding will far outstrip wind damage, said analysts for Risk Management Solutions, which makes forecasts for insurance companies.

Don Griffin, a vice-president at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said insurance companies are well capitalized and prepared to withstand the cost of wind claims from Harvey but the federal program may need to borrow more money from the taxpayers.

That is more bad news for homeowners, whose regular policies typically don’t cover flooding. It also could add to the federal flood insurance program’s huge financial problems, which are caused by premiums falling short of covering the cost of claims.

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Canadian expats living in Texas said they’ve gone days without sleep as the remnants of hurricane Harvey continue to deluge the southeast coast Sunday.

Megan Giffin-Scheffers, who moved from Halifax to Houston four years ago, said “everything is overflowing” in the Texas city, which is the fourth-largest in the U.S., as rising waters force thousands of people out of their homes.

Giffin-Scheffers, a mother of three, said she hasn’t slept properly in two days as she and her husband take shifts on the lookout for signs of danger.

Every time her phone lights up with a tornado alert, her family has to hunker down in their pantry as wind gusts howl through the city like “freight trains,” she said.

“As Canadians … I don’t think we really understood the impact of a hurricane,” Giffin-Scheffers said in a phone interview. “I’m homesick every single day, and when something like this happens, that’s just when I want to pack up and move back.”

Canadian astronaut Joshua Kutryk, who is training in Houston, posted photos to social media of neighbourhoods flooded with murky waters that almost fully submerged a car.

“Feeling like an ant in an anthill today, here by the grace of Mother Nature,” he tweeted. “Sometimes we get stepped on.”

Isabelle Dion, who is from Saint-Cesaire, Que., says her home in Houston has been spared from damage, but it’s scary not to know what will happen when night falls.

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“Imagine a shower that’s full capacity and it never stops,” said Dion. “Tornado warnings, and tornado warnings. Every five minutes of the night your cell phone goes on, and it’s very difficult.”

Canadian engineer Raihan Khondker said his family safely left their home in southeastern Texas, but he returned to the Bay City area as part of a support team at a nuclear power plant.

For three days, Khondker, who is from Toronto, has been working tirelessly to manage “one thing after another,” driving through water-choked streets to help out where he can.

Khondker said houses in his neighbourhood have been turned “upside down,” and rising waters in a nearby river threaten to send a potentially catastrophic flood into the area.

“Every single creek in the neighbourhood is full,” he said. “There is an imminent flood coming to Bay City, we just don’t know how much water we are going to see.”

Harvey slammed into Texas as a Category-4 hurricane Friday and has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, which is causing torrential rains.

– With files from The Associated Press

 

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Transcontinental Media G.P.