Yesterday was an absolute disaster! The freak rainstorm that took over Toronto ravaged houses, flooded basements, streets, train tracks, subway systems, and left thousands of people without power. I was extremely unprepared! I watched Breakfast Television yesterday morning while I was getting ready for work, as I always do each morning, and saw that they were calling for humidity, heat, and thundershowers. It didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary. I woke up my husband and told him to dress Cubby in light clothes as it was going to be humid and to pack a raincoat. I drove to work and went about my day as usual.
I stayed half an hour later to go over some fine details with my supervisor and left work just after 4 pm. While I was driving I remembered that I had to pay a credit card bill that was coming due so I pulled into the bank and did that. Then I saw Shoppers Drugmart in the same plaza so I quickly picked up some toiletries that I had been needing. As I was walking to my car I saw the sky getting really dark and there were thick clouds. I could feel light rain drops and humidity in the air. I got into my car and attempted to get to Cubby’s daycare to pick her up. This is where my lemony snicket, a series of unfortunate events began.
As I was en route to my daughter’s daycare, the rain started coming down harder and harder making my commute turn from it’s standard 20 minutes to 45 minutes. I sat in the car for about 10 minutes to see if the rain would pass; however it continued to get worse. The rain was pelting my car with a vengeance. I grabbed my umbrella and made a mad dash across the parking lot into Cubby’s daycare. I talked to her teacher for a while and told her how bad the drive in had been. I thought about staying at the daycare and waiting it out, but I really just wanted to get to my house and dry off. I picked up Cubby with one arm and had the umbrella in the other arm. I ran back to the car and struggled to get her into her carseat with the sounds of thunder and lightning overhead. We were both drenched.
I attempted the drive home, which usually takes anywhere from 6-8 minutes. Traffic was backed up with cars everywhere. The rain was coming down so hard and fast that I couldn’t see the road. My wipers couldn’t keep up. The thunder and lightning were so loud that it sounded like they were on top of my car only, like I was Pig Pen with this black cloud following me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get anywhere. It was the peak of rush hour so there were cars surrounding me, people were creeping along, and to top it off, the rain was flooding the streets and I could see huge pools of water in the right lane ahead of me (my lane). I was getting panicky and anxiety ridden. Cubby was getting scared in the backseat and was wailing louder and louder. It was hard to concentrate with her being so loud. I tried to keep it together and kept thinking that “we are going to get home”, “there is nowhere for me to go right now”. I kept my fingers crossed and said a silent prayer hoping that we would make it home in one piece.
The drive was taking so long and Cubby started to get hungry. Luckily, I had some animal cookies and raisins in the car so I kept feeding her until I could come up with a plan. I frantically looked around me. There were no restaurants or anywhere I could pull into. I could hardly see where I was as the force of the rain was so great. I was splashing through pools of water that were just coming up over my tires. I kept thinking what I would do if I got stuck in a deep one and my car flooded with Cubby inside! I needed to get inside somewhere. I have driven in bad weather before, but this was too much for me. Thankfully I saw a Tim Hortons on my left side and practically floated into the parking lot through a huge pool of water.
I unbuckled Cubby and ran inside the Tim Hortons. We were both drenched again and shivering like wet dogs. I took her to the bathroom to dry off and we both went under the hand dryer. I ordered her a grilled cheese sandwich and a soup for myself and sat down to eat just as the power went out. Water began pouring in from the roof. There were drips coming through everywhere. They put garbage bins and recycling containers all around the restaurant to collect the water. Then one by one, the monitors started going blank. I was hurriedly feeding Cubby as she was hungry and it didn’t look like a safe situation. Just as she was done the manager came over and said that we had to leave. She said that the district manager had called and everyone had to be out of the Tim Hortons. It was still pouring rain outside, but it looked like it had let up a bit. A nice employee helped me to carry our things to the car. I got Cubby buckled in again and started the car.
I called my husband to inform him of our status and he told me that his car was stuck in a pool of water up to his car door. He sent me a picture on his phone. “Oh great”, I thought. “This day keeps getting better and better”. As we drove home, I noticed that all of the streetlights were out. The traffic lights were out as well. There was still bumper to bumper traffic. Although we were literally 5 minutes from my house, it took us another 45 minutes to get home. The rain continued to come down as if we were in a carwash. In the meantime, 2 good samaritans had pushed my husband’s car out of the pool of water and he had made his way home. I got a phone call from him that he had reached home safely; however, he didn’t have a house key. He asked me if I had one, which I didn’t. My house key was inside the house. “Great!”
I know it seems strange that we both don’t have house keys, but we live in a townhouse and are not allowed to park at the spaces in the front so both of us park in the garage and always use that entrance to come in and out of the house. The only time we use the front entrance is when we have visitors. I was so annoyed. When we finally reached home, my husband had called the neighbours and was inside their home, only to discover that the power in our neighbourhood was completely out. We couldn’t use the garage door to get into our house as it is electric.
Cubby and I joined my husband in our neighbour’s house and we set up shop there. I tried to call my parents and left numerous messages for them as they had one of our house keys. I didn’t hear back from them (I found out later that their power had gone out and they were busy getting candles and flashlights). As we were waiting at my neighbour’s house, we got a call from my husband’s cousin, who stated that he had run out of gas and was coming over. We invited him to our neighbour’s house and he showed up within 10 minutes. I felt so bad for my neighbours as they were housing Cubby, my husband, my husband’s cousin and myself. I was getting nervous as I didn’t have any diapers, wipes, or extra clothes for Cubby (and of course, my husband had not packed her raincoat).
We called my in-laws and decided that we would head to their house in Brampton. We loaded up the car and headed there. The rain had let up; however there were still flooded roads, power outages, no streetlights, and emergency vehicles everywhere. It took us another 45 minutes to get to Brampton. Boy was I excited when we finally arrived there! We had warm food, clothes, diapers, a place to sleep and power! Needless to say we were all exhausted and soaked. We ended up all going to sleep at around 11:30 pm. I ironed my clothes and was fully intending to wear the same thing that I had worn to work that day. Luckily, I managed to find clean underwear and anti-perspirant in my gym bag that I had taken to work with me. I also had a toothbrush in my purse.
I couldn’t sleep at all after having such a crazy and stressful 6 hour ordeal. I lay awake and had little snippets of sleep. I was up by 5 am and took a quick shower and decided to head to my house first to see if the power was back on. I had done a large amount of grocery shopping last Sunday and didn’t want it to go to waste. I drove home and arrived at my house around 6:40 am. All of the clocks were blinking and the house alarm was making beeping noises, but all in all, it didn’t seem that bad. I checked the fridge and the food looked as if it was alright. I quickly ran upstairs, changed my clothes, grabbed some food from the fridge and was off to work. Most importantly I grabbed my house key!
It looked completely different outside from the previous day. There was some sun, the grass was really green, and most of the water from the streets appeared to be gone. As I neared my work, I saw that most of the streets still had no power or traffic lights. It was a little tricky as you had to treat every intersection as a four way stop (which not everyone knows how to do!) so it was chaotic. I was really tired at work, but managed to complete my day and drive 1 hour to Brampton after work to pick up Cubby and my husband.
Although it was an absolutely horrible day yesterday, it could have been worse. By evening, we were all safe and dry. I got some key learning points from yesterday’s events:
1. Always have a house key with you. Don’t rely on your garage door opener, as it won’t work if there is a power outage. Make many copies of your key and give it to friends and family and a trustworthy neighbour.
2. If you have a little one, keep emergency kits in both cars with snacks, water, changes of clothes, wipes, diapers and Vaseline.
3. Never let your gas tank get below 1/4 tank. In extreme emergencies like yesterday, you can run out of gas quite quickly from idling in traffic. All of the gas stations along my route were out of power and you could not fill gas. Many people had to abandon their cars on the road.
4. Make it part of your routine to check your tire pressure when you fill up gas.
5. Keep a supply of flashlights and candles at home. Have extra water in your house and car.
6. Keep anywhere from $40 to $50 with you as an emergency fund. If the power is out, most likely you will not be able to use your debit or credit card.
7. Keep a change of clothes and extra toiletries with you in a bag in your car.
8. Trust your instincts. Don’t try to be a brave star or hero. If you feel like you are unable to drive due to weather conditions (especially if you have a little one with you in the car), pullover at the nearest restaurant or public place.