Tips for staying safe after Toronto's flash floods

Toronto police and city officials are offering tips to residents to stay safe in the aftermath of the massive rains that poured down yesterday.
Toronto was hit with more than a month's worth of rain in just a few hours on Monday, July 8, 2013. Flash flooding ensued in various locations and left the city cleaning up a day later. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Hours after more than a month's worth of rains poured down upon Toronto, many residents are dealing with the results of the flash flooding that ensued.

The sudden rains left a Richmond Hill-bound commuter train stranded on tracks covered in water, a Ferrari stuck under a downtown overpass and thousands of TTC passengers looking for a way home when subway service was interrupted on Monday night.

By Tuesday, the cleanup was underway in many flooded basements in Toronto, including at Danuta Czubak's home near Dundas Street West and Islington Avenue.

Danuta Czubak shows a CBC reporter the mark the water made on the walls of her basement. (CBC)

At the height of the storm, Czubak said her basement sat awash in about two metres of water, which knocked pictures off the wall and sent heavy furniture, a fridge and a piano tumbling about.

"It just totally destroyed everything," Czubak told CBC News in an interview.

Toronto police and city officials have published tips for residents to stay safe, whether they are wading through water at home or traversing the city's rain-soaked streets on Tuesday.

Dealing with flooding

The City of Toronto has issued tips for homeowners who are dealing with flooding and lingering power outages.

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Homeowners are urged to call 311 to report any blocked drains or sewer backups. They are able to call the number at any time of day, for either information or assistance.

Insurance companies should also be notified of property damage as soon as possible.

The city says that homeowners should call professionals to help clear standing floodwater from basements.

Ralph Palumbo of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said in a statement issued Tuesday that insurers are "actively responding" to incoming reports from customers.

The IBC offered some general tips for those experiencing flooding, which included moving valuable items from flooded basement locations if safe to do so.

Homeowners should dry flooded areas as soon as possible to prevent mould from growing, the IBC said.

Power outages

Appliances should be turned off or unplugged to avoid damage when the power comes back on.

The city advises residents to turn on their most essential appliances when power is restored and to wait 10 to 15 minutes before switching on the rest.

Outages can be reported to Toronto Hydro by calling 416-542-8000.

In the case of refrigerators affected by outages, the city says that as long as the door remains closed, food contained within them will stay cool for four to six hours. Perishable food should be pitched if it has been above 4 C for more than two hours.

Outdoor safety

Toronto police say drivers should avoid roadways with standing water. If motorists come to an intersection with the traffic lights out, they should treat the crossing as a four-way stop.

Pedestrians are advised to avoid riverbanks. Parents should keep a close eye on children and pets to ensure they are nowhere near rivers, lakes and streams with elevated water levels.

Police remind the public to avoid contact with any downed wires.

With a report from the CBC's Steven D'Souza