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How TD Insurance is helping people affected by wildfires

Jesse Organ was taking a break from playing beach volleyball on Sunday afternoon when he heard of a wildfire engulfing a community outside of Halifax, N.S.

It was late May 2023 and forest fires had already damaged thousands of hectares of land in the province.

Organ, who works as an operations analyst at TD Insurance, looked at his phone and saw dozens of notifications alerting him that his help was needed. He looked up from his phone and saw smoke floating across the horizon.

As a volunteer firefighter, Organ was asked to come to his local fire station immediately.

He left the beach and hurried to the station. At 5 p.m., Organ and his fellow firefighters were on their way to Tantallon, a community outside Halifax.

“Everything was pretty bad,” Organ said. “Houses were on fire, cars were on fire and propane tanks exploded.”

The firefighters helped people evacuate their homes and tried to protect the properties that were still standing from further damage. Organ continued this backbreaking work until about 3 a.m. Monday morning.

After a few hours of sleep, he went back to the fire station and then into the middle of the destruction.

On Tuesday, after taking Monday off to fight fires, Organ returned to the office.

“I came to work and was allowed to leave for the rest of the week to worry about the fires instead of worrying about my job,” Organ said. “I was very grateful that the senior leadership supported me.”

Organ is one of many TD Insurance colleagues who has helped people affected by wildfires in Canada, both as part of his role at TD Insurance and as a volunteer in his community.

As wildfires threaten many communities, homes and businesses across Canada in 2024, TD Insurance remains committed to supporting customers who have lost their homes or been forced to evacuate due to hazardous conditions.

TD Insurance is committed to providing customers with the support and assistance they need, whether they have questions about their insurance coverage or need to make a claim.

TD Insurance Mobile Response Unit

One of the ways TD Insurance colleagues are helping customers affected by bushfires is through the TD Insurance Mobile Response Unit, or MRU.

The MRU is a portable outpost of TD Insurance that is deployed in communities experiencing disaster. TD Insurance customers can visit an MRU – often stationed in shopping plazas, TD branch parking lots or other easily accessible areas – to speak with a TD Insurance advisor about their insurance coverage or claim.

Last summer, Abigail Thomas worked at an MRU as a Field Adjustor at TD Insurance, helping customers affected by the Nova Scotia wildfires with their insurance claims.

Thomas, who lives in Alberta, flew to Halifax to be on site during the wildfire season, which ran from May to mid-June. While Thomas is used to being stationed in communities affected by disasters, such as floods or fires, last summer felt different.

She said the impact of the wildfires in Nova Scotia was profound, and community members were deeply affected by the scale of the destruction. Last year the province was hit by the largest wildfires in its history, destroying more than 200 homes, according to data published by the Nova Scotia government. Fires were burning in Halifax communities such as Barrington Lake, Shelburne County and Tantallon.

“It was a very emotional and very stressful time in the lives of everyone affected by the bushfires,” Thomas said. “But one thing I would say about Nova Scotia is that when a catastrophe occurs, you see that the community is there for each other and helps each other.”

It was this sense of community that helped Thomas carry out her duties. Thomas and her colleagues at TD Insurance started her days bright and early, often not finishing until 9 or 10 p.m. visiting residents’ affected homes, helping with their insurance claims or answering any questions they had.

It was exhausting work, but it was incredibly rewarding to be able to help people when they needed it most, Thomas said.

Thomas believes community members greatly appreciated having TD Insurance colleagues on site so they could speak to them in person. In the aftermath of a disaster such as a wildfire, knowing what to do and how to get support can be overwhelming, she said.

“If your mind is in a fog, you can become confused and stressed and wonder: Is this damage covered? What about this?’” Thomas said. “Being able to be there and support our customers didn’t take away all their stress, but I think it gave them some relief.”

Organ also believes it is crucial to help others in times of need. As a volunteer firefighter, he has seen firsthand the importance of working together as a community. Living so close to the areas affected by last year’s bushfires, Organ realized it could easily have been his home.

There is also a real sense of appreciation from the community for his help.

“We got letters from kids showing up at the fire station with little drawings and sweet messages saying, ‘Thank you for saving my house, or ‘Thank you for doing what you do,’” he said.

“Despite how traumatic everything was in Tantallon, there was so much praise from everyone in the community – and that’s what keeps you going.”

For some helpful bushfire tips from TD Insurance, please visit: https://www.tdinsurance.com/products-services/home-insurance/tips-advice/forest-fires

SIDEBAR

How TD is helping Canadians affected by wildfires

TD also provides financial support to organizations trying to make a difference in communities affected by wildfires across Canada.

In May, TD announced a $250,000 donation to organizations focused on wildfire and disaster relief across Canada, including British Columbia, Alberta and Atlantic Canada. This announcement comes as the Canadian government warns that Canadians could experience another severe wildfire season this year due to climate conditions such as warmer and drier spring weather and droughts.

“As the risk of wildfires continues to escalate, there is also an urgent need for proactive measures to support communities at risk,” said Alicia Rose, Associate Vice President, Social Impact, Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship, TD.

“By supporting groups like the First Nations Emergency Services Society of British Columbia and GlobalFire, we are focused on equipping communities with the tools they need to stay safe and maintain access to daily essentials when wildfires strike .”

In addition to support through donations and individual volunteer efforts, the Bank’s operations are also equipped to assist community members dealing with the impacts of wildfires in several other ways, including through the TD Helps program with measures such as mortgage payment deferrals and credit cards. .

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