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Toronto All Too Familiar With Effects of Hurricanes

Hurricane Hazel Struck Southern Ontario in 1954, Killing 81

By: Daniel Horowitz
Published: November 5th, 2012 in News » World
Hurricane Hazel in Toronto
I have no idea how many women around the world changed their names from Sandy, to Sandra, in the last week. Although, I’m sure the total is considerable.

When Hurricane Sandy unleashed her wrath on the east coast of the United States last week, the proper name of Sandybecame synonymous with death and destruction, and is certain to become a verb in the near future, (i.e.) “Wow, it’s so windy out there, I hope we don’t get Sandy’d!”

After all, in the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina that saw New Orleans swim for its collective life, the popularity of the name Katrina for new babies sank from a ranking of 246 in 2005 to 382 in 2006, according to the Social Security Administration.

I’ve heard one theory that hurricanes are named after women because they only leave after they’ve taken your house and car.

Damn misogynists! There’s just nothing funny about this.

While watching the emotional news broadcasts, bringing the horrific and tragic results of Sandy into our living rooms, my 7-year-old son was looking for reassurance the other day.

“That could never happen here, in Toronto, right, dad?” he’d ask, eyes wide.

“Of course not, Eli, we’re safe here,” I told him, fingers crossed behind my back.

The truth is, if you know anything about Canadian, more specifically, Ontario history, you already know that we’re not immune from nature’s wrath.

I remember many conversations with my dad, Carl, during which he would recount the day when Hurricane Hazel wreaked havoc on his Mississauga pharmacy, flooding his basement. It was on October 15, 1954, when “Hazel” the most famous – or infamous - hurricane in Canadian history struck Southern Ontario. At one point, Hazel was actually projected to dissipate, but instead re-intensified unexpectedly and rapidly, pounding the Toronto region with winds that reached 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) and 285 millimetres (11.23 inches) of rain in 48 hours. Bridges and streets were washed out; homes and trailers were washed into Lake Ontario. Thousands were left homeless, and 81 people were killed—more than 30 on one street alone. The total cost of the destruction in Canada was estimated at $100 million (about $1 billion today).

Fortunately, as my dad would joke, his stores’ basement generally stored paper products, nost notably toilet paper, paper towel and women’s sanitary napkins. Thankfully, they were, as the commercials promise, extremely absorbent.

I guess I’ll pass on my dad’s stories to Eli in a few years. But, as of now, on Shabbat, we will continue to pray for the people of the Northeastern United States.

Related articles: Hurricane Sandy, Toronto, Hurricane Hazel, Southern Ontario, Storm, New York, New Jersey, Flood, Damage
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