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The terrifying thing about tornadoes is their randomness, with disproportionately few suffering the brunt of the pain.
So it was in the capital region Friday when mere hundreds of households — out of more than half a million across the region — were stunned by the sudden turn in their lives.
In the days to come, the shock of what’s been lost will in many cases be replaced by frustration at how long it takes to put things back to normal, at least as far as physical things are concerned.
The hard reality, now that power has been nearly fully restored, is that it will take months to clean up damaged homes and rebuild. It may be years before some of last week’s victims can deal successfully with the fear of future windstorms.
The good news, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, is that “most home and business insurance policies cover damage caused by a windstorm or tornado.”
Nevertheless, the process of assessing the damages, opening and proving a claim, and lining up contractors can take weeks. Then, depending on the extent of the damage, repairs can take months more. Building a new home from scratch can take six to eight months according to Josh Kardish, president of the Greater Ottawa Home Builsers’ Association and vice-president of eQ Homes Inc., an Ottawa firm with about 250 homes at various stages of construction.
The reconstruction effort in the capital region could also be exacerbated by a relative shortage in necessary skills.
This is a busy season for the capital’s trades workers, especially on the Ottawa side of the river. There, the number of new housing units under construction has escalated sharply thanks in part to higher prices and demand for real estate properties generally. Last month in Ottawa, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., construction began on 941 units, up 52 per cent from the same month last year. In Gatineau, some 200 new units started construction, down about 10 per cent year over year.
“There’s definitely a shortage of trades,” says Kardish. “There are also a lot of existing homes in the queue for construction work.”
The number of people employed in trades, transportation and excavation last month topped 48,000 in Ottawa and 25,000 in Gatineau — up 22 per cent in Ottawa and 16 per cent in Gatineau.
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