Thursday’s strong winds, which were forecasted to reach speeds up to 80 km/hr, produced such severe waves that parts of the Toronto Islands have flooded.
According to city officials, the winds caused large waves to breach sandbagging efforts, resulting in “significant flooding” occurring near homes.
City spokesperson Brad Ross said the flooding is affecting the island’s north shore and some homes are surrounded by water. However, residents who sandbagged and have their own pumps are “relatively dry.”
Winds have caused high waves in the harbour, breaching sandbagging efforts on the north shore of Toronto island. As a result, significant flooding is occurring near homes. Staff are on site now assessing damage and will begin restoring barriers and pumping water. More to follow.
— Brad Ross (@bradrossTO) May 23, 2019
Thursday’s winds caused a “sloshing effect in the inner harbour,” said Ross, “like a bathtub, essentially — and waves then breached areas that were sandbagged, knocking them clear, allowing lake water to encroach the land.”
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Water levels are higher on the western side, with levels reaching 30 to 40 cm in some areas, Ross said.
Pump and sandbagging work will take up to 72 hours, with the focus right now on residential areas, added Ross. Non-essential vehicles from the mainland won’t be allowed on the island during that time.
The far eastern part of Ward’s Island is “relatively dry,” along with Centre Island, said Ross. Additionally, ferries continue to operate and the island school remains open.
Now, crews must re-sandbag and pump areas of the shore that flooded.
Earlier this month, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) issued a “shoreline hazard warning,” advising that water levels in Lake Ontario were approaching those seen in 2017 when the island experienced devastating flooding for months.
As of Tuesday, May 21, Lake Ontario’s water level were 75.74 metres above sea level. For comparison, the water level reached a peak of 75.93 metres in 2017.