A severe thunderstorm caused flash flooding in Toronto, cutting power to at least 300,000 homes and businesses in Canada’s largest city, shutting down subways and leaving over 1,000 passengers stranded for hours on a commuter train filled with gushing water.
Toronto police and firefighters used inflatable boats to rescue commuters from a double-decker train that stalled in floodwaters that reached up to the lower windows. Water spilled through the bottom floor of the carriages, forcing passengers to move to the upper decks.
A spokeswoman for the local transport authority, Metrolinx, said power was shut off and the windows were cranked opened to provide ventilation. The train was carrying about 1,400 passengers during the Monday evening rush-hour.
“There’s a full-on river on either side of us … We. Are. Stuck. Hard,” passenger Jonah Cait wrote on Twitter.
Another passenger told TV news network CP24 she could see people clinging to trees after abandoning their cars on a flooded highway alongside the tracks.
Police and firefighters used inflatable boats to ferry all passengers from the stalled train to higher ground. It took until after midnight to complete the rescue operation, about seven hours after it began.
Emergency officials said five or six people were treated at the scene for minor injuries, but no one required hospital treatment.
All of Toronto’s subway service was temporarily halted owing to power and signal problems. Some stations were also flooded. Partial service later resumed but large parts of the system were still shut down. It was unclear if the subway system would be in full operation by Tuesday morning.
The storm left parts of the city centre dotted with abandoned vehicles, some with water up to their windows. One woman, in a T-shirt and shorts, dived head-first through the window of her marooned car before wading away in the thigh-deep floodwater.
Porter Airlines cancelled all flights out of Toronto city airport on Monday evening owing to power cuts in the terminal. It was not clear how many flights were affected.
As many as 300,000 Toronto Hydro customers lost power. Toronto Hydro said about 200,000 customers were still without electricity as of 1am on Tuesday, primarily in the west and north-west of the city. The utility firm could not say when it expected full power to be restored.
Another energy company, Enersource, said power was cut to about 80% of Mississauga, a suburb of 700,000 people west of Toronto. By around 10pm, 50,000 were still without power.
Toronto’s flash flooding comes two weeks after extensive flooding in Calgary turned parts of the western Canadian city into a lake and forced up to 100,000 people from their homes. Three bodies were recovered during the floods.
Source: The Guardian