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Gill Blog

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Ice Storm Damage in Canada, 1998

This week marks another anniversary of the Ice Storm of 1998, we are reminded by this retrospective from Canada Online.
For six days in January 1998, freezing rain coated Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick with 7-11 cm (3-4 in) of ice. Trees and hydro wires fell and utility poles and transmission towers came down causing massive power outages, some for as long as a month. It was the most expensive natural disaster in Canada. According to Environment Canada, the ice storm of 1998 directly affected more people than any other previous weather event in Canadian history.

The toll, in casualties and economic damage, has been calculated.
  • 28 people died, many from hypothermia.
  • 945 people were injured.
  • Over 4 million people in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick lost power.
  • About 600,000 people had to leave their homes.
  • 130 major power transmission towers were destroyed and more than 30,000 utility poles fell.
  • Millions of trees were brought down by the freezing rain.
  • Estimated cost of the ice storm was $5,410,184,000.
These numbers give some perspective to the costs of the South East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami.
The earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and six other countries Dec. 26 left more than 150,000 people dead and about 5 million homeless. So far, more than $5 billion in direct aid has been pledged by governments around the world, according to one estimate at a summit in Jakarta today of leaders from the nations involved.

Undoubtedly, the total economic costs of the tsunamis will boggle the mind, when estimated seven years from now. It is expected that the reconstruction may take a decade. Unprecedented cooperation of the world community will be required for the affected nations to recover financially. The human costs are incalculable.


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