Two days after what is becoming known as Monsoon Monday, the effects of two strong thunderstorms that blew across Southern Ontario and smashed into one another almost on top of the city of Toronto are still being felt.
On Monday, the city of Toronto and the easternmost parts of the city of Mississauga experienced a massive rainfall event that caused the overflow of already swollen rivers and massive flooding of city streets, subway tunnels, backyards, basements and any low lying areas in its path.
Peter Kimbell, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, told Global News:
We did see a complex of thunderstorms near the Barrie area and that complex morphed or merged with another one coming from the west over Toronto around 5 o’clock. The merger with the second complex of thunderstorms coming from the west probably amplified it sufficiently and caught [the forecasters] off guard, just pure and simple.
During the height of rush hour in Toronto, cars, buses, streetcars, subways, trains, and pedestrians alike were deluged with rain, causing rapid and massive flooding that filled the streets, basements and ground- and below-level businesses, knocking out power and causing major commuter highways to be shut down.
Around 500,000 GTA residents were hit by a blackout overnight, but it was reported that almost 90 percent of those initially affected were back up and running by Tuesday morning.
However, the stress on Toronto's overburdened electricity supply system was proving too much. CityNews reported that Mayor Rob Ford was asking Torontonians to conserve power by shutting off air conditioners, unplugging unused appliances, etc., because the city's power grid was, as Ford described it, "hanging on by a thread." Rotating power outages were announced in an effort to stabilize the situation and to try to re-route power to areas that had been without since late Monday afternoon.
Toronto Hydro tweeted late Tuesday night "all rotating power outages stopped for the night. It may be necessary to start in the morning. Approx 20,000 custs remain out. #darkTO."
Early Wednesday morning, it was reported that 16,000 customers were still without power and that rotating outages may have to continue throughout the day.
Here is a top ten listing of sorts, of just a few of the affected city services, interesting facts and harrowing experiences of average Torontonians:
* The Toronto Public Library website yesterday issued the following Service Update regarding libraries forced to close because of flood damage:
Toronto Public Library branches are open today, with the exception of Black Creek, Davenport, Dufferin St.Clair, Humber Bay, Jane/Dundas, Northern Elms, Parkdale, Perth Dupont, Richview, Sanderson and Spadina Road branches, which are closed until further notice.
* A warehouse in the Kipling Avenue & 401 area suffered severe damage from too much rain in too short a time when it's roof and part of one wall collapsed.
* A small child was almost swept away near Dixie and Dundas on the border of Mississauga and Etobicoke, go to link to see the video.
* Snakes on a train! Almost 1,400 people were evacuated over a 7 hour period after a GO train heading for Richmond Hill was forced to stop in the rising water near Bayview and Pottery Road. Go to the above link to see how an unpaid passenger slithered its way under a seat.
* It was reported that 126 mm of rain fell at Toronto's Pearson Airport in a 24-hour period, eclipsing the rain that fell during the height of the devastating Hurricane Hazel (121 mm in a 24-hour period) in 1954. In fact, it was the largest 24-hour rainfall event experienced in Toronto since record keeping on this type of thing began.
* A young woman in Etobicoke suffered only a scrape to her forehead after her car was swept right off the street on Old Burnhamthorpe Road by rushing flood waters and then into Etobicoke Creek, where her car finally crashed into a tree along the creek bank.
* Subway lines between Kipling and Jane Station's are still down two days after the storm due to a Hydro One station on Kipling Avenue, south of Bloor, being flooded out and under 6 to 9 metres of water.
* Infrastructure under GO Transit tracks was washed away, causing rolling closures while the tracks were fixed, prompting Metrolinx President & CEO to urge his customers to stay home the day after the storm, or to make alternative travel arrangements.
* A car was swallowed by a sinkhole in Etobicoke and the overflow from the Don River forced the closure of the only two major north/south arterial highway outlets servicing downtown Toronto, the Don Valley Parkway on the eastern side, and the 427 on the western side, for extended periods of time.
* And finally, In a case of really bad timing, a friend of our son who was on his way to our house for a visit, drove under the TTC rail bridge between Kipling and Islington Stations on Bloor and encountered his own little tsunami:
Eric's Jeep stranded on Bloor Street in Etobicoke,.
Initial estimates of damage are in the range of $600 million, over half a billion dollars. This was obviously a major event, not on the scale of the recent Calgary flooding, but one that requires concerted and cooperative efforts from all levels of governments, corporations and citizens alike.