NEWS

National Ballet dancer, daughter shaken after Toronto storm

08/10/2012 11:20 EDT | Updated 10/10/2012 05:12 EDT
The rain and winds that tore through Toronto on Friday morning caused major damage to the home of one of Canada's top ballerinas, who narrowly escaped injury with her daughter when an oak tree crashed into their bedroom.

Stephanie Hutchison, who is the first soloist with the National Ballet Canada, says she was sleeping in one of the upper bedrooms of her house on Willow Avenue with her five-year-old daughter, Charlotte.

The tree making a crackling sound just before it fell, at which point Hutchison told CBC Radio her instincts kicked in.

"All I heard was the roof caving in," recalled Hutchison. Stephanie rolled over on top of her daughter and in a split second, the tree crashed through, covering them with debris.

The room is now covered in splintered wood, broken dry wall and branches. Hutchison said when it was all over, her daughter was too stunned to talk.

"I was saying 'Charlotte, Charlotte!' when she didn't say anything it gives you that moment of panic, [but] she was absolutely fine."

Mother and daughter escaped without a scratch: "Thankfully, everyone's all right," said Hutchinson.

City officials have inspected the home already and say it is structurally safe and the family can still sleep in their home on the lower level. The upper level had just been renovated two weeks ago and Hutchison also survived a car crash earlier this year.

The ballerina's home is one of two in an east end neighbourhood that were severely damaged. The same tree also tore through the back wall of a neighbour's home.

It happened at about 7 a.m. during an early morning severe thunderstorm.

"There was a flash of light, white light, a crack and then we heard the bang. A huge bang. We came running upstairs in shock. We saw the back. We saw the tree had come through the back wall." said Steve Nicholson.

Elsewhere in the city, many homeowners had to contend with flooded basements and there are reports of sinkholes in at least one neighbourhood.

Fallingbrook Road to Fallingbrook Wood is closed because of sinkholes. City crews expect to open the road sometime tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority issued a flood watch advisory Friday because of the heavy rain.

"Please be advised that rivers and streams are currently running at high levels and should be considered dangerous. Flooding of low-lying areas is anticipated throughout the day. Also, the forecasted rainfall amounts may create street flooding and sewer surcharging. Please exercise caution when driving and avoid low-lying roadways and underpasses," said the TRCA in a news release.

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