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Toronto Rob Ford urges electricity conservation following Toronto floods

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses for a photo at the Humber Treatment Plant during a brief tour in Toronto on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, a day after a severe rainstorm caused substantial flooding, power outages and road closures.

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

Toronto mayor Rob Ford toured some areas of the city on Tuesday that were hardest hit in the flash flood that overwhelmed its infrastructure the night before, including the water systems, hydro and transit.

"[The goal was] to learn and to educate and to be able to explain to the taxpayers what's going on," Mr. Ford said.

Systems knocked out at an Etobicoke Hydro One station were still not up and running Tuesday afternoon. Lower voltage systems, stored in the basements of buildings, were submerged in 300,000 gallons of water. Pumper trucks were still on site attempting to suck out the remaining water.

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The station and another that was also flooded supply power to 500,000 customers. Both were off-line on Tuesday while crews removed water, increasing the strain on the remaining power grid.

Earlier in the day, the mayor had urged people to conserve electricity as hydro crews work to restore power fully.

"We're hanging on by a thread," he said.

Treatment facilities for waste water down the road from the Etobicoke station were without power for nearly six hours on Monday night, according to Lou Di Geronimo, general manager of Toronto Water. The outages, combined with a record amount of rainfall in just a few hours, forced crews to work well into the night to avert a disaster, Mr. Di Geronimo said.

"This plant experienced significant flow increase. It essentially went off the charts," Mr. Di Geronimo said. "When we get hit with that much rain water at one time, it can flood the plant. If we flood the plant and lose the ability to treat sewage, it will be out of service – not for hours, but it could be days and weeks."

Workers had to run their systems manually and use auxiliary power to prevent flooding at the facility, which serves 660,000 people in the west end of the city as well as industrial areas and the airport.

The mayor also toured west-end Kipling subway station, which was flooded with as much as three feet of water, although much of it had been pumped out by Tuesday afternoon. The station, along with three other subway stops, was closed until all the water can be removed and damage assessed.

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The mayor said he hopes to sit down with department heads later in the week to determine the total cost of the flooding and look at options for similar disasters in the future.

"Hopefully, there won't be a next time, but realistically speaking, there's probably going to be a next time," he said, adding that the total cost will likely tally in the millions.

"It's Mother Nature, right? When you get hit like that, it's out of our hands."

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