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Hurricane Hazel: A look back

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Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 10:36 AM -

It's been 59 years since Hurricane Hazel struck Toronto, killing more than 80 people in the city alone and leaving almost 2,000 families homeless.

The storm lashed the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic states before moving inland, but rather than weakening, it combined with a cold front and was re-energized when it finally reached southern Ontario.

More than 200 mm of rain poured down on some parts of the province, including Toronto, where heavy rains preceding the storms had already saturated the ground.

There was nowhere for the water to go but the region's rivers, some of which rose by up to 8 m, swamping homes, wrecking bridges and sweeping away victims (see a full list of the dead in Toronto here).

Image: Martin Taylor/Wikimedia Commons

Image: Martin Taylor/Wikimedia Commons

It was easily the worst storm to ever hit Toronto in the 20th Century. A royal commission estimated the damage at $25 million, but longer-term impacts could have been as much as $100 million.

In today's terms, Hazel would have done the equivalent of more than $1 billion in damages.

One of the better things to come out of the disaster: The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, charged with flood mitigation and warning.

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