ENVIRONMENT

2013 Alberta Floods Were Costliest Natural Disaster In Canadian History, Insurers Estimate

This aerial photo shows a flooded downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada on Saturday, June 22, 2013.  The two rivers that converge
This aerial photo shows a flooded downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada on Saturday, June 22, 2013. The two rivers that converge on Calgary are starting to recede after floods devastated much of the southern Alberta province, causing at least three deaths and forcing thousands to evacuate. The flooding forced authorities to evacuate Calgary?s entire downtown and hit some of the city?s iconic structures hard. The Saddledome, home to the National Hockey League?s Calgary Flames, was flooded up to the 10th row, leaving the dressing rooms submerged. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The massive floods that devastated swaths of southern Alberta in June are estimated to be the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history, with the Insurance Bureau of Canada pegging the property damage at C$1.7 billion ($1.65 billion).

The bureau, which represents Canadian home, cars and business insurers, said the preliminary estimate for the floods surpassed the C$1.57 billion in damage caused by the 1998 ice storms in Ontario and Quebec.

"It's a staggering number that we expect will go even higher, Bill Adams, the bureau's vice-president, western and pacific, said in a statement.

Heavy rains over the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains that began in late June caused the 100-year flood that was blamed for four deaths, forcing the evacuation of thousands and shutting Calgary's downtown core, the center of the country's oil and gas industry, for nearly a week.

The preliminary estimate, which will be updated in 60 days, is calculated from more than 25,000 claims filed to insurers since the floods.

($1 = $1.03 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Andrew Hay)

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PHOTO GALLERY
Flooding In Southern Alberta, June 20, 21