Torontonians are being reminded to protect themselves and stock up on 72 hours' worth of emergency supplies as city crews race to clear sewer drainage systems ahead of a major storm that could cause widespread power outages and flood streets and homes.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Toronto is a great city and we are well prepared for Hurricane Sandy," Mayor Rob Ford said at a news conference Monday. "As always, you should be smart, take care of your families first and look out for your neighbours second."
Among the simplest precautions residents are being asked to take now is to survey sidewalks near their own homes and to do some quick maintenance of catch basins to clear them of leaves. Ensuring the drainage isn't blocked could help reduce flooding.
City staff said more than 30 sweepers had been dispatched to ensure catch basins in low-lying areas of the city aren't plugged up, such as at the Bayview Extension, Hoggs Hollow near York Mills and Wilson Road and at the Beach, south of Queen street.
The city has already identified 32 areas throughout the city for monitoring in the event of flooding.
City Manager Joe Pennachetti said forecasts have said the heaviest rainfall from the storm system — a mix of remnants of Hurricane Sandy and already wet weather in Ontario — will drench Toronto with about 30 millimetres of rain between midnight and noon Tuesday.
Extra 311 hotline staff on duty
"Hopefully it will drop off [Tuesday] in terms of volume of rainfall into Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," Pennachetti told reporters.
Ford said that extra staff have been dispatched to handle the city's 311 information lines, due to expectations of a higher volume of calls.
- As Sandy heads for Toronto, Mayor Ford urges caution
"Report falling trees and branches, flooding, and other city-related problems to 311. Do not hesitate to call," Ford said, adding that the hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
He also reminded people to charge their cellphones now in case of power outages, but added that landlines and payphones may still work.
Other services that may be affected by the storm include:
- Schools - The Toronto District School Board says no closures are planned but officials are monitoring the situation. Parents are asked to remind children to keep away from flood waters and downed power lines.
- TTC - Service is not expected to be affected but commuters are being asked to leave extra time for their trips. The TTC also does not expect flooding problems at Union Station, saying floods there earlier this year were caused by rapid rainfall from thunderstorms combined with construction.
- Toronto Hydro - Crews are on standby to repair power lines toppled by high winds.
- Garbage pickup - City staff said that regular 7 a.m. Tuesday garbage pickup will resume as normal for the time being, though residents are being told to put their bins out closer to 7 a.m., as opposed to tonight.
City buildings are to remain open and for hydro-related issues, residents can call 416-542-8000.
The Canadian Red Cross advises Ontarians to organize emergency kits. Among items to consider packing are:
- Four litres of water per person for each day of a 72-hour period (two litres for drinking, and two litres for washing)
- Enough non-perishable or canned food for each person for 72 hours, as well as enough food for pets
- A manual can opener
- A crank or battery-operated flashlight, with extra batteries
- A crank or battery-operated radio, with extra batteries
- Spare keys for the house and car
- A first aid kit
- Cash in small bills, in case power outages restrict the use of bank machines
- Other special needs items such as medications, baby formula, diapers and equipment for people with disabilities
The Canadian Red Cross recommends keeping the supplies in easy-to-carry containers, such as rolling suitcases, so they can be easily transported in the event of an evacuation.
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