A History of Toronto #24: Lessons from Hurricane Hazel

In October 1954 disaster struck the Humber Valley in Toronto when Hurricane Hazel came inland 960 km from the Carolina coast. Archival film footage and old photos reveal the tragedy unfolding as 10 metres of water came down the valley trapping people in their homes and cars and sweeping them down river. Emergency services were called in to help and volunteers perished as they were struck by a wall of water. Eighty-one people died, 4,000 families were left homeless and flooding rivers took out 20 bridges. Hazel changed the landscape forever leading to dams and water conservation, park and ravine management, and laws banning home building on flood plains. All properties were expropriated from the valley to ensure such a disaster could never occur again and in so doing a wonderful park system was created in the Humber and Don River watershed system. For more information visit www.ontopoftheworld.net and check out the category on Toronto 175.


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