Canadian snowbirds fly to Florida to assess home damages

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In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Canadians who own homes in Florida are flying south to find out whether or not their

In the wake of Hurricane Irma’s devastation, Canadians who own homes in Florida are flying south to find out whether or not their properties were damaged by the powerful storm.

Global Affairs is still advising against all non-essential travel to Florida and Georgia in connection with the storm. But with flights now reopened, plenty of homeowners were at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Wednesday -- and many are unsure what they’ll find when they arrive.

A man with two properties in Florida said one of his houses lost a tree and plenty of shingles.

“It looks like the rest of the house is in pretty good shape, but we can’t get down the road,” he told CTV Toronto.

A woman at the airport said she will get a clearer picture of the damage when she arrives.

“From what my daughter says, from contacting her, she says we had a lot of wind,” she said.

It’s estimated that 25 per cent of homes were destroyed in the Florida Keys, with drone footage showing roofs ripped off and wreckage littered across the region. Estimates suggest that Hurricane Irma caused US$20 billion to US$65 billion in damages, making it one of the costliest storms in U.S. history.

The Canadian Snowbirds Association says it has been inundated with thousands of calls in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The association says it has at least 60,000 members with homes in Florida and is offering advice for repairs.

Evan Rachkovsky, director of research and communications for the group, advised that anyone looking to do renovations contact their insurance provider. They can also check online to see whether the contractor they’ve hired is licenced. 

Canadians snowbirds whose homes weren’t damaged may still face higher costs, according to insurance experts, who say that insurance providers are expected to increase premiums. One analyst estimated an increase of up to 20 per cent over the following year. 

With files from CTV Toronto and The Canadian Press

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