How do you put a number on a tragedy of this historic level? Try $3.58 billion. That’s the estimate of the insured property damage in Fort McMurray due to the wildfires that forced the mass evacuation of over 80,000 people from the city on May 3.
The estimate was released by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) on July 7. The damage done by the Beast, as the wildfire has been dubbed, has been “by far the costliest insured natural disaster in Canadian history.... This is more than twice the amount of the previous costliest natural disaster on record—the 2013 southern Alberta flood, which cost $1.7 billion in insurance claims,” according to the IBC’s report.
Ravaging nearly 600,000 hectares of forest, an area bigger than Prince Edward Island, the fire destroyed about 2,400 homes and buildings as it moved east toward the Saskatchewan border. Re-entry only began on June 1 and the cleanup process will take months as crews clear away debris and contaminants. Rebuilding is not a task being taken lightly by the local construction industry.