OCTOBER 15/1954 WAS THE NIGHT TORONTO REALLY FELT THE WRATH OF MOTHER NATURE

TORONTO has had its share of natural disasters – The Great Toronto Fire of 1906, and a couple of blizzards each and every year . . . . Serious floods as recently as 2013 and 2018;High winds on a regular basis.On the evening of October 15, 1954, HURRICANE HAZEL attacked TORONTO with winds reaching 124 kilometres an hour, and 200 millimetres (8 inches) of rain falling every 48 hours onto already saturated ground. <AERIAL PHOTO – Canadian Press>For this city, the eventual death toll was staggering –81 people died, 1,868 were left homeless, houses built on floodplains were demolished, 50 bridges damaged, and roads washed out.<PHOTO ABOVE – Pottery Road in the Don Valley, Star Weekly><PHOTO ABOVE – Rescue attempts during the storm’s aftermath – Toronto Telegram>The arrival of HAZEL was a surprise. TORONTO had no prior hurricane experience. Due to the destruction in Canada, the United States and Haiti, the name ‘Hazel’ was retired, and never used again for an Atlantic hurricane.As a result, all developments were banned on floodplains. Parks took the place of low-lying houses. Four conservation authorities formed the TORONTO & Region Conservation Authority to oversee watershed management and sustainability practices. Two large dams were built to control flooding, and all of this has shown its value to this very day.

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