Hurricane Hazel - 50 years later October 1954 Hurricane Hazel


Peterborough is one of the 270 communities in Ontario 'designated' as a flood-risk area. Excessive rain caused flooding in 2002 and 2004, resulting in millions of dollars in damage throughout the town of Peterborough. An estimated 190 millimetres of rain fell in the recent 2004 storm, flooding basements and damaging personal property.

Major floods are unusual in Ontario, but statistics show that another hurricane will likely happen again. In 2004, for the seventh consecutive year, experts around the world predicted an above normal level of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean. These forecasts have seldom been wrong.

The hurricane season officially runs from June through November. For more than a decade, the Atlantic's waters have been warm enough to produce a record number of tropical cyclones and there appears to be little change in sight.

Source: Canadian Hurricane Centre: Atlantic Hurricane Season 2004 Outlook
The last 10 years have been the busiest of any decade on record for Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes. Whenever there's a prediction of increased hurricane activity overall in the Atlantic, it means that there's a greater chance that one or more of these storms will make their way northwards and affect Canada. Hurricane Hazel is just one of several hurricanes that have affected Canada. Hurricane Juan, born in Bermuda, hit the coast of Nova Scotia on September 29, 2003, causing the most damage in modern history for Halifax, N.S. (as measured by the widespread tree blow-downs, power outages and damaged homes). Although hurricanes can cause severe damage, it is important to understand that small floods which happen every year caused by spring snow melt, ice jams, thunderstorms or tropical storms, can also be harmful, as high water levels can be dangerous to communities.

With this in mind, let's make sure you are prepared.

Conservation authorities, in cooperation with local municipalities and the province, play a significant role in the protection of life and property from natural hazards such as flooding. In Ontario, the Ministry of Natural Resources, conservation authorities and Environment Canada are responsible for forecasting where and when flooding is likely to occur and issuing flood alerts and warnings.

The key to hurricane protection is preparation. By taking sensible measures before, during and after a hurricane, many lives can be saved and property damage averted.

What to do when a Hurricane Watch or Warning is issued

  • Keep well informed by listening to the latest warnings and advisories on the radio and television. Or check the Canadian Hurricane Centre's Web site at
  • Move children, and other young or helpless people and livestock to safe ground.
  • Secure all boats and items left loose on piers or boat houses.
  • Leave low-lying beaches or other areas that may be swept by high tides or storm waves.
    Remember, roads to safer areas may become flooded before the main portion of the storm arrives.
  • Plan to stay home during the hurricane if the house is out of danger and is well built.
  • Board up windows or protect them with storm shutters.
  • Secure anything that might be blown away or torn loose.
  • Store drinking water in tubs and jugs.
  • Buy food that needs little or no refrigeration or cooking.
  • Check flashlights and battery-operated equipment.
  • Make sure that there is enough gasoline in the car.

What to do During a Hurricane

  • Remain indoors during a hurricane. It is extremely dangerous to travel or move about when the winds and tides are whipping your area.
  • Keep track of the storm's progress through radio and television reports.
  • Avoid the eye of the hurricane. If the calm storm centre passes directly over your region, there will be a lull in the wind and a sudden calm that may last for a few minutes to half an hour or more. Stay in a safe place during this time, and remember the second half of the circular storm will soon sweep over the region.

What to do During a Flood

  • Turn off basement furnaces and the outside gas valve.
  • Shut off the electricity. If the area around the fuse box or circuit breaker is wet, stand on a dry board and shut off the power with a dry wooden stick.
  • Never try to cross a flood area on foot. The fast water could sweep you away.
  • If you are in a car try not to drive through flood waters. Fast water could sweep your car away. However, if you are caught in fast rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers.


Water Battery

    For more information on how to prepare you and your family for emergencies, please visit

Environment Canada, 2004


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