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Header How TD Insurance colleagues are helping those affected by wildfires
• May 28, 2024

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

It was late May 2023, and wildfires had already started damaging thousands of hectares of land in the province.

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

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

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

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

The firefighters helped people evacuate their homes while trying to protect any properties that were still standing from further damage. Organ continued this grueling work until about 3 a.m. on Monday morning.

After a few hours of sleep, he headed back to the fire station, then into the thick of the devastation.

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

"I came to work and was given approval to leave for the rest of the week to worry about the fires versus worrying about my job,” Organ said. “I was really appreciative of senior leadership supporting me.”

Organ is one of many TD Insurance colleagues who has helped those 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 continues to be committed to supporting customers who have lost their homes or forced to evacuate due to dangerous 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 submit a claim.

TD Insurance Mobile Response Unit

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

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

Last summer, Abigail Thomas worked out of a MRU as a Field Adjustor with TD Insurance, helping clients affected by Nova Scotia wildfires with their insurance claims.

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

She said that the impact of the wildfires in Nova Scotia was profound, and community members were deeply affected by the scale of the devastation. Last year, the province suffered the largest wildfires in its history, which destroyed more than 200 homes, according to data published by the Government of Nova Scotia. Fires burned in Halifax communities such as Barrington Lake, Shelburne County, and Tantallon.

“It was a very emotional, very stressful, period in the lives of everybody affected by the wildfires,” Thomas said. “But one thing I will say about Nova Scotia is that anytime there is a catastrophe, you see the community being there for each other and helping one another out.”

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

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

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

“When your mind is in a fog, you might be confused and stressed, and wonder, ‘Is this damage covered? What about this?’” Thomas said. “Being able to be there and support our clients couldn’t erase all their stress, but I think it helped give them a little relief.”

Organ also believes it is vital to help others in times of need. As a volunteer firefighter, he has seen the importance first-hand of working together as a community. Living so close to the areas affected by last year’s wildfires made Organ realize it could have easily been his home impacted.

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

“We would get these letters from kids that would show up at the fire station with little drawings and sweet little messages saying, ‘Thanks for saving my home, or ‘Thanks for doing what you do,” he said.

“Even with how traumatic everything was in Tantallon, there was so much praise from everyone in the community -- and that's kind of what keeps you going.”

For some helpful tips on forest fires 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 is also providing financial support to organizations that are trying to make a difference in communities that have been affected by wildfires throughout Canada.

In May, TD announced a donation of $250,000 to organizations focused on wildfire and disaster relief prevention across Canada, including in British Columbia, Alberta, and Atlantic Canada. This announcement comes as the Government of Canada warns that Canadians could see another serious 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's 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 providing support to groups like the First Nations Emergency Services Society of British Columbia and GlobalFire, we're focused on equipping communities with the tools they need to help stay safe and maintain access to daily necessities when wildfires strike."

In addition to support through donations and individual volunteer efforts, the Bank's operations are also equipped to help community members in various other ways as they deal with the impact of wildfires, including through the TD Helps program with measures like payment deferrals on mortgages and credit cards.

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