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Thunderstorms cause GTA-wide flooding & road closures

Overnight thunderstorms led to severe flooding across the GTA, with the Don River overflowing its banks and GO Transit lines washed out. The storms also caused damage in Brampton.

The Don Valley Parkway was closed in both directions from the Gardiner to Bayview/Bloor at of 5 a.m. Wednesday. The southbound lanes reopened just after 9:30 a.m. and the northbound lanes reopened around 10 a.m.

Mayor Rob Ford commended city staff for their quick and efficient work.

“I’m very proud to say the city’s response systems worked perfectly and our operational response was phenomenal,” the mayor said during a brief press conference Wednesday afternoon. “We moved quickly and decisively to deal with the flooding and minimize the impact on Toronto residents.”

Ford said traffic signal systems were adjusted on adjacent roadways to redirect the flow of traffic to help early morning commuters get around without too much delay.

“I understand this could have turned into a nightmare but it did not,” he said. “Days like today serve as a reminder why we must maintain investment in our aging infrastructure.”

Ford said the city is monitoring any further rainfall that may hit the GTA during the remainder of the day and the public will be alerted should any new issues arise.

The city’s manager of road operations said the flood waters have stopped rising, and even once the waters recede, crews will then have to check the integrity of the infrastructure. Mark Burlie said crews would have to clean up the roadway before completely reopening the highway.

Some drivers weren’t getting the message, with at least one motorist getting stuck after police had put up barriers. That van driver had to reverse out of the flooding on the DVP. Police are looking into the incident.

One police officer said that while he hadn’t seen flooding like this, it has happened before.

“I haven’t seen flooding on the Don Valley Parkway like this,” Toronto police Staff. Sgt. Brian Bowman told Breakfast Television.

“One of my officers had, back in 1986. He saw it reach the top of the [concrete] jersey barriers, so it’s not unprecedented.”

The severe rainstorm also caused flooding on the Go Transit Richmond Hill Line. An area of the track was underwater and train service was suspended to Oriole and Old Cummer stations.

Click here for GO Transit updates.


CityNews viewer Nicholas Moreau (@nickmoreau)  sent in this photo of storm damage on Main Street south of Queen in Brampton on May 29, 2013.

In Brampton, downed trees and branches fell onto homes and buildings. One homeowner said strong winds woke him just before 5 a.m.

“I’d never seen winds that intense. They shook the trees so much I thought the house was shaking,” Mike Fitzpatrick told Breakfast Television.

On Rutherford Road, the storm ripped off the entire front of an abandoned building. On Wellington Street, a metal hydro pole was snapped in half.

Environment Canada sent a surveyor out to Brampton to see if the region was hit by a small tornado, but later confirmed that the damage was caused by a downburst, and not a twister.

“They (downbursts) can actually do just as much damage to some types of buildings as a weak tornado,” said Environment Canada severe weather meteorologist, Mitch Meredith.

The federal agency had issued a heavy rainfall warning for the City of Toronto just before 2 a.m. Environment Canada warned that several rounds of thunderstorms are expected and up to 70 millimetres of rain could fall in the city. The warning ended around 6 a.m.

CityNews weather specialist Frank Ferragine said, “The real heavy rainfall is over.”

“But what we’re in store for is some real sticky conditions, heat and humidity. There is a risk of pop-up thunderstorms,” he said.

Click here for the full weather forecast.

At the north end of the city, near Weston Road and Finch Avenue, one driver became trapped in a four-foot-deep puddle. He called a tow truck and was waiting on top of his car.

When the tow arrived, the driver was forced to walk out to the truck and then back into the water to hook up his own car to the truck.

It was the second time the same driver had been trapped that morning – he was also stuck at Wilson Avenue and Keele Street.

Near Weston and Black Creek Drive, residents were bailing out their basements.

How did the rain affect you? Let us know in the comments.