Huntsville mayor declares emergency after flooding
Published Thursday, January 10, 2008 7:17PM EST
The mayor of Huntsville, Ont. has declared a localized state of emergency after melting snow combined with rain has caused severe flooding.
Seventy-five homes in the central Ontario town of about 18,000 residents have been evacuated, and more evacuations were expected in the southwest end on Thursday.
"(The flooding) came at us very, very quickly," Mayor Claude Doughty told reporters. "The last 10 people we had to get out by boat and we did."
There were still about 12,000 Hydro One customers in the town without power on Thursday afternoon.
A day earlier, a powerful wind storm blew through southern Ontario, leaving thousands grappling with power outages, property damage, flood warnings and road closures.
Hydro One said a massive power outage in the Huntsville, Bracebridge and Muskoka region affected about 110,000 customers.
Emergency teams were also working to contain swollen waterways in Muskoka.
Strong wind gusts reaching more than 100 km/h in some areas toppled trees and hydro lines, causing the outages. Weather conditions were too strong Wednesday evening for crews to do much repair work, said Hydro One spokesperson Daniele Gauvin.
"There was a safety issue yesterday," she told CTV.ca Thursday. "Strong winds last night hampered the efforts."
She said 1,000 crews were out at the crack of dawn on Thursday to make the repairs.
"With winds down, it's much easier to get in there," she said.
Hard-hit areas in eastern Ontario such as Perth and Brockville should have their power restored by the end of the day.
By late Thursday evening, customers in Huntsville and Bracebridge should also have their power restored, Gauvin said. The Muskoka region will take a little while longer because of the thick bush in the area. Gauvin said power should be restored there by Saturday.
In Toronto, there were reports of small power outages throughout the city but most of them were fixed quickly.
Residents living in the High Park neighbourhood had to wait until about 11 p.m. to have their power restored as crews had problems accessing the wires because of the amount of trees in the area, according to a Toronto Hydro spokesperson.
In total, about 3,000 people were without power in the city.
Heavy rainfall is expected to shower the Greater Toronto area Thursday night.
Environment Canada predicted between 15 and 25 millimetres of rain mixed in with ice pellets and wet snow.
Meanwhile, people working in Toronto's financial district had to find another way to get to the office after police closed several streets in the area to traffic and pedestrians.
On Wednesday night, winds caused a part of a sign on a CIBC building on Bay Street to fall. Several streets around the area were closed as a safety precaution.
"It's like a missile coming down," one officer told CTV Toronto. "It potentially could decapitate somebody."
The signs are placed on the 58th floor of the building on both the north and west side and police were worried the sign could crash and hurt people on the street.
"Repair efforts have been limited due to the high winds, however technicians are working to restore pedestrian and vehicle access in the area," police said in a news release.
They had the problem fixed by late morning but not before rerouting traffic during the rush hour. Pedestrians were asked to use the underground PATH system to access their workplace.
"It's a bit of an inconvenience but I guess they got to be careful," said one man walking through the area.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Austin Delaney and files from The Canadian Press