A black-and-yellow generator has been ringing outside Nabila Awad’s home for the past nine days – his almost constant sound as a reminder of rising costs and hundreds of dollars in gas consumption.
The 70-year-old resident of Grenfell Glen was keeping her receipts, but she wouldn’t stop counting them.
“I was so busy filling gas and coming and going all the time,” she explained.
However, Awad estimates that she burns at least a 20-liter can a day. With a gas of about $2 a liter that comes to about $360 so far.
“It’s very expensive, but my insurance, thank God I have good insurance…They pay for all my gas and order food because we don’t have water.”
Despite the destruction and lack of strength, this makes Awad one of the lucky ones.
Nearly 6,500 customers in the city remain without power, officials said Monday, more than a week after a deadly windstorm hit Ottawa. Many who still rely on generators to keep their refrigerators running are watching their bills go up, wondering if their insurance will cover them.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.
While home insurance policyholders will generally be reimbursed for food waste, wind damage and even some cleaning costs, fuel or generators aren’t an obvious cut question, said Anne Marie Thomas, director of consumer and industry relations for Insurance Canada (IBC).
“They could be,” she said. “I don’t want to say that everyone will be covered because … it all depends on what kind of policy you bought, how much coverage you bought and are those things included as part of your coverage.”
On the other hand, renting a power saw or sump pump to limit damage will likely be covered, according to Thomas, who spent Monday at the Howard Darwin Centennial Arena emergency reception center with other IBC employees answering questions from community members.
“By doing these kinds of things, you prevent further damage to your property and that’s a good thing for you and your insurance company.”
‘Tale of Two Cities’
Thomas stressed that Ottawa could face delays in hearing insurance providers, noting the scope of the storm’s damages and the number of claims it is tampering with.
“It’s a matter of being patient now to determine what is covered and what is not,” she said.
Mayor Jim Watson said Monday that the city is making progress in cleaning up from the storm.
“We desperately want to get everyone’s authority as quickly as possible,” he said during a media update this afternoon. “I know it’s frustrating, it’s annoying and very uncomfortable. We’re doing everything we can.”
Power was initially cut to about 180,000 households, and while the majority of Hydro Ottawa’s customers are back in business, CEO Bryce Conrad acknowledged that thousands are still waiting.
“If you are one [people] “Without electricity, it’s the priority, it’s the only thing,” he said on Monday.
“It’s kind of a tale of two cities.”
Expect an invoice “in the thousands”
Bob Carbery has spent the past week or so on the wrong side of that gap.
Piles of logs and branches still line the streets of his Merval Gardens neighborhood, and dump trucks were seen transporting damaged trees on Monday.
The longtime resident said he already got an answer on whether to cover the operation of his natural gas generator – it won’t.
His strength returned around 2:30 a.m. Monday, but not before he got what’s expected to be a huge bill.
“I don’t know what it will be, but I expect it to be in the thousands,” he said.
Carbery has been helping provide power and water for neighbors on both sides of his house for several days.
He said someone gave him several hundred dollars to help cover the cost.
“Maybe the city will be useful in covering some of the people like us who have incurred this kind of expense,” Carbery said. “It would be great.”