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!