Amid the pictures of flooded highways, stranded trains and abandoned cars that circulated on Twitter at the height of Monday’s storm, was a shot of a man in a yellow poncho directing traffic – Etobicoke Councillor Doug Ford.
Mr. Ford figures he spent about four hours directing traffic at the intersection of lslington Avenue and Dixon Road Monday night. Tuesday morning, he was feeling the effects and was having a hard time raising his arms.
“Everyone was going crazy at the intersection and the fire trucks couldn’t get through,” said Mr. Ford, who was on his way to get a pump for his mother’s flooded basement when he came upon the traffic jam. “You just instinctively jump out,” he said.
Mr. Ford said he learned a thing or two about traffic control. “People are honking and you are trying to control … you lose track. You have to have a system,” he explained, calling it, “The best experience I’ve ever had in my life.”
Although authorities asked people to stay at home, Mr. Ford said there was traffic chaos where he was. “I must have moved 15,000, 20,000 cars through that intersection, easy.”
Firefighters gave him a reflective vest and flashlight, he said.
A spokeswoman for Toronto Police said in emergencies individuals sometimes step in and help direct traffic, but said it can place them in a “risky situation,” and is generally not encouraged.
While the Etobicoke councillor was directing traffic, his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, was in his car and visiting a neighbour with a flooded basement.
“I was in the car with the kids and my wife and trying to help people out,” said the mayor, whose west-end home was “pitch black” because of a power outage.
The mayor said he was getting his information from the car radio and from city staff on his cell phone.
“I was driving around. I checked on a few people,” he said.
Mr. Ford described the response from city staff as “satisfactory,” but later said they did a great job given the amount of rain.