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The latest as the GTA cleans up after summer storm, widespread flooding

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow is urging anyone dealing with flooding in their home to contact the city’s 311 line and warning people to stay away from rivers and ravines on Wednesday.

“Toronto is resilient,” Chow said, after thanking city and TTC crews who worked through the night to get the city moving again. 

Community centres and outdoor pools are still in the process of reopening, Chow said, but progress is being made. It’s also unsafe to swim at Toronto’s beaches — likely for the next 48 hours at least — because of sewage that was flushed into Lake Ontario during the storm.

Most major commuter routes are running normally Wednesday after a severe summer storm drenched the GTA, causing significant flooding and widespread power outages. City manager Paul Johnson said some parts of the city experienced a “hurricane amount of water” while others weren’t hit as hard. 

Johnson said there are still some flooded roadways, which has also been an issue for GO Transit’s trains.

But “people were able to get into the city this morning,” he said. 

Johnson was peppered with questions about why so much of the city flooded, including a scene of what looked like a waterfall rolling down the stairs into the newly-renovated Union Station.

“There isn’t a piece of work that could have been done at Union Station to prevent what happened,” he said. 

Instead, Johnson said, it’s a “good news story” that the downtown train station was able to reopen so quickly. 

WATCH | Trudeau comments on the storm that hit the GTA: 

Trudeau thanks Toronto’s first responders, city and utility workers following severe storm

13 hours ago

Duration 1:21

While making a stop in Toronto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is thinking of the residents who were affected by the significant storm that caused flooding across the city on Tuesday.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority says water levels in the Don River are falling.

The authority says in a statement that some rivers within the GTA are still experiencing higher flows of water due to the heavy rainfall from Tuesday, causing hazardous conditions including slippery and unstable river banks.

People should exercise caution around all bodies of water and keep away from the slippery and unstable banks, it says.

Power now restored, utility says

Toronto Hydro said all power had been restored in the city by 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

According to preliminary figures from Environment and Climate Change Canada, 97.8 millimetres of rain fell at Pearson International Airport, while 83.6 millimetres fell on the downtown core of Toronto in just a few hours. About 87 millimetres were recorded at Billy Bishop airport on Toronto’s waterfront.

Many parts of Toronto, especially low-lying areas closer to Lake Ontario, saw devastating flooding.

Toronto Fire said it received roughly 1,700 calls for service and dispatched crews to around 500 incidents between 6 a.m. ET and 3 p.m. Tuesday, including some 50 elevator rescues and more than 50 other flooding-related calls. Firefighters also helped more than 20 people trapped in vehicles and buildings that were flooded.

Some traffic closures still in place

The deluge caused commuter havoc, with the wet weather shutting down several major routes, including Toronto’s Union Station, Lake Shore Boulevard and the Don Valley Parkway (DVP), an essential north-south corridor into the downtown core.

Low-lying areas of the DVP were inundated after the adjacent Don River burst its banks, and dozens of vehicles had to be abandoned in the floodwaters.

Onlookers take in the spectacle of flooded and abandoned vehicles on the Don Valley Parkway after a major rain squall caused the Don River to burst its banks on July 16, 2024.
Floodwater is receding in the Don Valley on Wednesday following a massive rain storm on Tuesday, according to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

All three critical commuter routes have since fully reopened.

The eastbound Gardiner Expressway is also open from Jarvis Street to the DVP.

Bayview Avenue remains closed between Moore Avenue and River Street for clean-up efforts.

Billy Bishop Airport — and the pedestrian tunnel to the downtown island airport — are running as normal on Wednesday.

A power outage Tuesday had forced the tunnel and the elevators serving it to close.

Changes on GO’s Richmond Hill Line

GO Transit says service on its Richmond Hill Line will be altered Wednesday. 

“The tracks near the Don River remain impassable due to flooding,” the transit agency said.

“As a result, trains will make all stops down to Langstaff GO, and then will detour to Union Station. This will add an additional 30 minutes of travel time.”

The detour means trains will be stopping at Old Cummer and Oriole stations. Customers who typically use those stations are encouraged to take the TTC instead. You can find more details about options here

TDSB schools open for summer programming

Late Tuesday evening, the Toronto District School Board said at least 20 schools were without power and some schools may have been affected by flooding. 

However on Wednesday, the board said all schools being used for summer school, child care and camps appeared to have power restored.

The board said it would continue to monitor facilities for flood damage, but all schools will be open for programming.

More information is available on the TDSB website.

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