Hurricane Hazel struck Toronto on October 15, 1954, killing 81 people and leaving 1896 families homeless. The record rainfall that the storm brought to Toronto--up to 225 millimetres--was unable to infiltrate the ground because the above-average rainfall in the preceding month had already filled the water table. Most of the rain simply ran off the surface into rivers and creeks, rapidly filling them to capacity and beyond. One estimate of runoff was that 90 percent of the precipitation ran off the land directly into rivers raising the water level by 6 to 8 metres. Water coursed through creeks where they had never before existed, derailed trains and washed out roads. Rampaging rivers tore houses from their foundations, picked up cars and mobile homes, and wrecked boats.
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