Storage customers in Abbotsford feel stung after company denies compensation for flood losses

·2 min read
Two people clear out their BigSteelBox storage container that was damaged by floodwaters in Abbotsford, B.C. Customers are criticizing the company for not providing compensation after their storage yard was flooded. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Two people clear out their BigSteelBox storage container that was damaged by floodwaters in Abbotsford, B.C. Customers are criticizing the company for not providing compensation after their storage yard was flooded. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Some customers at a storage facility in Abbotsford, B.C., say they feel deceived after the facility was affected by historic floods and they were not provided with any compensation.

BigSteelBox, a B.C.-based company that offers storage in shipping containers, says its Abbotsford yard was affected by widespread flooding in mid-November.

The yard is located near the low-lying Sumas Prairie area, which was devastated by floodwaters after a series of intense storms.

Only about 20 per cent of the containers in the yard were affected, according to the company. BigSteelBox directed affected customers to insurance providers and government flood relief, not providing any compensation.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Katherine James, who lost many of her late father's possessions in the company's flooded boxes, says that customers were never told the storage yard was built on a floodplain.

"I got angry," she said. "It didn't matter whether we had insurance or not — it wasn't going to cover it. We tried going to the government relief page. We got told we're not covered."

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Kelly and Mark Therrien, who had only just moved to the Fraser Valley from Nanaimo, said they lost 50 years' worth of possessions in the floods and estimated the damage exceeded $100,000.

"I was told [the boxes] were waterproof and rodent resistant," Mark said.

"But they're only waterproof to be on the ships. They're not waterproof under five feet of water."

A spokesperson for the company said their "hearts went out" to those affected by the floods.

They said insurance coverage would likely not apply to the situation because of limitations around overland flood coverage.

"It is upsetting to learn that the supports many of us rely on … are not applicable here," the spokesperson said. "We share in their frustration and sadness."

The company says affected customers immediately had their storage fees suspended, and free delivery was also provided to allow customers to assess the damage.

However, the customers who spoke to CBC News said many of the measures the company highlighted had not yet been given to them.

James believes the company should step up and provide compensation for the customers who were affected.

"Give us some more sympathy to what's going on instead of saying, 'Oh, I'm sorry, but get your stuff out of here,'" she said.

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