Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When everyone pulls together

Late yesterday afternoon, we had record-breaking rainfall here in Toronto. I stopped writing early when the sky became as dark as nighttime, and I worried about a blackout. Fortunately, my power stayed on, but thousands and thousands throughout the city lost power, and there was flooding everywhere.

Huge parts of the subway system had to be shut down because of both the power outages and the flooding, wreaking havoc just as rush hour was building.

The problem was too much water, too quickly. Ground, sewers and local waterways couldn't absorb so much in too short a time. Our downtown highway, the Don Valley Parkway, flooded and motorists were stranded. In fact, they were stranded in floods all over the city.

I heard emergency vehicle sirens during the storm and on and off all evening.

The largest, and longest, rescue was of 1,400 passengers from a commuter train when the Don River overflowed its banks so badly that the train became stranded in a sea of water, with the water level rising almost to the windows in parts.

Toronto Police Marine Unit was called out and passengers were removed in Zodiacs, with only about twenty or so passengers being able to leave the train each time. Consequently, the rescue took hours.

I had to go out last night, and the bit of the subway route I had to take was functioning just fine, but aboveground traffic was often stalled. I watched over and over as emergency vehicles, both fire trucks and ambulances, had to maneuver through these crowded streets, with cars jockeying and inching out of the way. One thing that impressed me was that the drivers all looked so calm.

The response from all of our services—fire, ambulance, police—was amazing.

It was brought home to me again how hard these people work, and how efficiently. There's a photo in one of our papers this morning of a police officer carrying a woman over his shoulder from a marine dinghy through the water. I wonder how many times he did that last night, and imagine how sore and tired he is this morning.

I'm thinking this morning of all of those emergency responders and am thankful we have systems in place that try to create order out of chaos.

Kudos to emergency personnel everywhere!

10 comments:

Cathryn Parry said...

Wow--thanks for this story, Mary--I'm going to look for the photos. I hope everybody is okay!

PS Yes, kudos to emergency workers everywhere!

mary sullivan said...

Cathryn, I found out this morning that we received a month's worth of rain in two hours, even more rain than we received during Hurricane Hazel in 1954. We broke that record. No wonder everything was such a mess. Fortunately, I've heard nothing about any injuries!

kris said...

More than Hurricane Hazel? Oh WOW. I grew up on stories of that time. You guys REALLY took a beating last night! I looked at the pics and couldn't believe the DVP. What a night!

mary sullivan said...

Kris, I'm so glad I wasn't stranded on that GO train!

Di said...

What is with the weather lately? Or is it just in a natural cycle and "civilization" has gotten in Mother Nature's way?

mary sullivan said...

That's the big question, isn't it, Di? I wonder if anyone has definitive answers yet.

Geri Krotow said...

Glad you're okay, Mary! I saw Jayne Hoogenberk's FB photo and freaked--it's the stuff of nightmares with that big, black cloud over Toronto. Thanks for a wonderful post about a dangerous circumstance.

mary sullivan said...

Geri, yes, that cloud was sort-of apocalyptic! Really scary.

Kathleen O said...

I felt sorry for those people on the GO Train to Richmond Hill, I was on the GO Train to Guelph and it was horrendous traveling. I was just so grateful to have be able to get home safely if not a little wet.

Mary Preston said...

We've had our fair share of disasters here in QLD too. I have the utmost respect for the volunteers and Emergency crews that step in and step up.

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