In the wake of two tornadoes that ripped through the Ottawa-Gatineau region families are struggling to recover due to their lack of insurance coverage.
The two powerful storms – one classified as an EF3 tornado and the other EF2 – were considered one of the top “major traumatic events” for the region, according to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Not only did the storms damage more than 60 homes in Ontario’s Dunrobin area and over 215 buildings in Gatineau, they also left many homeowners – most lacking or completely without insurance – to rely on charity to get by.
“They don’t have insurance,” Craig Stewart of the Insurance Bureau of Canada told CBC News. “They are at the good graces of [the] governments, Red Cross, and any donations the community can provide to support them.”
David Bergevin is one of those homeowners whose lack of insurance has left him helpless even after the storms have passed.
Bergevin owns an apartment unit in Gatineau, Quebec, where he lives with his girlfriend and stepson. Unfortunately, his building was particularly hard hit by the weekend storm. Although the structure still stands, the wind damage has left his unit exposed to leaking rainwater, damaging whatever household belongings that survived following the tornado.
“They have told us [that the structure is unsafe],” Bergevin told CBC News, “But then all of a sudden, it’s now considered safe. I don’t even understand, to be honest.”
To Bergevin’s misfortune, his lack of renters’ insurance means he cannot have the leaks repaired to stop further water damage. His family also cannot afford a storage unit or even a moving truck to temporarily keep their possessions safe and dry.
He was also sent an email that directed his family to clear the apartment as soon as possible.
After everything that has happened, Bergevin’s family hopes to find an affordable place to live.
“Right now, it’s a race against time. But with everything that’s going on – lack of money and lack of resources – we don’t really know from one second to the next,” he remarked.
They might not be out of the woods yet, as costs for temporary living might be another problem.
“[The] city is telling us that there are apartments in and around town,” said Canadian Red Cross vice-president for Quebec Pascal Mathieu. “The thing is, it’s a matter of price. Will we find enough apartments at reasonable prices? That’s the challenge, and I don’t have the answers yet.”
Mathieu, however, offered assurances that Gatineau is working on the issue.