Calgary, Alberta — July 5, 2013 — Vehicle recovery efforts in Alberta have been in overdrive the past two weeks as government workers and towing operations scramble around the clock to reclaim vehicles damaged or submerged in water. The 2013 Alberta floods began on June 19, triggered by heavy rainfall leading to the worst flooding catastrophe in the province’s history. A total of 27 local states of emergency were declared and over 100,000 people were displaced.
For many Albertans, this meant abandoning their vehicles and hoping they’d still be there sound and whole when the waters receded. Drivers raised their concerns regarding the insurance coverage of their damaged or totalled vehicles. Steve Kee, Director of Media Relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has good news, “Alberta has more cars per capita than anywhere else in Canada and approximately 90 per cent of Albertans have comprehensive coverage on their vehicles and are covered for flood damages.”
The towing industry has been working overtime to deal with the large volume of calls for assistance. Alicia Goeseels is a dispatcher for Calgary Tow Masters. “It has been loaded, our workload has quadrupled compared to what it usually is, everyone has been working 13 hours a day which is the legal maximum for drivers, and the dispatchers have been working up to 12 hours a day,” she says.
Similarly, a spokesperson for ASAP Towing Calgary says, “We have been receiving more than 100 calls per day. It has been very hard to move around, a lot of our drivers are working overtime and we’re responding to as many calls as possible. It’s very important for owners to get their vehicles inspected after flood damage, don’t try to turn it on or move it yourself.”
There is also help available for drivers who cannot find their vehicles or are required to move their vehicles from priority areas. The city of Calgary has started a courtesy towing service for vehicles blocking access for emergency personnel and equipment at no cost to the owner.
This means that If the police, waste and recycling, or transportation department need a vehicle to be moved, no charges will be incurred by the owner. If a driver cannot locate their vehicle, the Calgary Parking Authority Dispatch Line should be called for assistance at 403-537-7100.
Considering the magnitude of these events and the need to restore order briskly, Albertans need to be careful in the aftermath, especially when pursuing the purchase of a new vehicle.
According to Steve Kee of IBC, there are concerns that some of the flooded vehicles may be salvaged and sold to unsuspecting Albertans.
“Drivers should avoid getting stuck with a flood car, select a reputable dealer, inspect the vehicle for water stains, mildew and sand. Inspect the interior upholstery and floor panels for fading, rust on screws, mud in the spare tire compartment and alternator crevices, moisture or grime inside the seatbelt retractors, look for oxidation under the hood, and check the door speakers, they are often damaged in floods,” says Kee, “Have a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle, do an ownership history search, and trust your instincts. If a deal seems too good to be true, walk away.”
Mark Sturby is the General Manager of Superior Paint & Auto Body in Calgary. He says that although some vehicles were damaged, the situation could have been much worse
“We have an average of 100 to 110 vehicles here at any given time, but only 33 customer vehicles were damaged.” says Sturby. Many of the vehicles were stored on the facility’s rooftop parkade, protecting them from the flood waters. “By the time we got here Friday morning, the water was already deep. Right now we’re getting everything cleaned up and restored. We should be back in full operation soon.”