Thousands of Toronto residents remained without power and flooded train tracks, power stations and roadways delayed commuters after the city recorded the heaviest one-day rainfall in at least seven decades.
The overnight storm brought nearly 3.9 inches of rain to the city center and nearly 5 inches to Toronto’s Pearson airport, according to Environment Canada. It knocked out power to 300,000 residents, and 20,000 people remained without electricity in the city’s west end this morning, according to Toronto Hydro.
“It now represents the single rainiest day ever at the airport since records began back in 1937,” said Peter Kimbell, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, by phone from Ottawa. “We had one area of thunderstorms moving southward and another area of thunderstorms moving eastward, and they basically merged over Toronto, and the combination was particularly intense.”
GO Transit, the city’s commuter train service, advised customers to seek alternatives for their morning commute as flooding of tracks in Richmond Hill and along Lake Shore Boulevard caused delays, said spokeswoman Vanessa Thomas.
A northbound Go Transit train in east Toronto’s Don Valley was trapped after flooding washed out the tracks, stranding passengers inside while rising water poured into the carriages.
One of those stranded in the train, Thornhill resident Angela Sarino, recalled today in a phone interview how she watched as vehicles on a nearby road became submerged, with commuters getting anxious during the ordeal.
“As the water was rising and coming into the train, that’s when you start to think this is pretty serious,” the 40-year-old Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce employee said. “You see this water rising, and it’s rising very fast. To sit there and within half an hour see a car completely submerged, you’re thinking ‘is this rain ever going to stop?’”
Authorities used Zodiac inflatable boats to help evacuate the commuters from the powerless, flooded train in an operation that ended in the early morning.
“I know that there were a lot of emergencies last night, but it was pretty disheartening to know you’re [one of] about 1,500 people on the train, and you had two Zodiacs that were out there helping us,” said Sarino, who got home around 1 a.m.
Most city roadways are open this morning after flooding caused closures last night.
Subway service between Kipling and Jane stations on the Bloor-Danforth line was still suspended as crews worked to drain a flooded substation and return power to that section of track. The 505 streetcar along King Street, which shuttles 56,000 commuters each day and is the city’s busiest, was diverted along Queen and Shaw streets due to a flooded overpass at King and Atlantic Avenue, according to Toronto Transit Commission spokeswoman Jessica Martin.
Paul Yeung, senior manager at Royal Bank of Canada, left his downtown office yesterday at 5 p.m., was stuck in a train in a tunnel for 55 minutes and didn’t arrive home until around 9:30 p.m. after having to walk part of the way.
“It was a pretty hairy ride home, but it could have been worse,” Yeung, 39, said in a telephone interview. “On the positive side, I got to meet a couple really nice people.”