TORONTO – An all-time one-day rainfall record was set in Toronto Monday evening, when water flooded major highways, neighbourhood homes, stopped subway service and necessitated a rescue of passengers from a flooded GO Train.
While not nearly as dire as the consequences from June’s flooding in Alberta—120,000 people forced from homes, 22 local states of emergency and an estimate of 10 years to rebuild—the Toronto floods quickly elicited comparisons of #stormTO to #abflood on social media.
At the heart of the issue was how Toronto’s much-criticized Mayor Rob Ford compared to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi in the time of crisis.
Ford’s first criticisms came when the Toronto Mayor Ford account tweeted that the worst was over hours before the rainfall peaked, using the wrong measurement for rain, and deleting the tweet soon after.
RT@TOMayorFord Latest from City Staff: 30-40 cm of intense rainfall in short period. The worst is over. North York and Downtown hit hardest.— Toronto Gal Ⓥ (@TorontoGaI) July 9, 2013
Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale was quick to highlight the removal:
Did Mayor Ford's account post and then delete a "the worst is over" tweet?— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) July 9, 2013
Things got worse for Ford when Toronto Sun reporter Don Peat described Ford’s location during the storm:
The mayor commented on his location in a press conference on Tuesday, saying he spent some time in his car before checking on his mother’s and neighbours’ flooded basements.
“I was in the car with my kids and my wife trying to get some information,” he said. “A lot of people were in their car, obviously trying to get some information.”
Although Torontonians had been urged to stay off flooded roadways, Ford’s actions contrast with those of Nenshi, who held multiple press conferences and provided frequent and detailed updates on his Twitter account throughout the Alberta floods. Nenshi, though sometimes criticized as pandering to the media, earned the nickname “Superman” for his efforts, and even inspired t-shirts with his face on them following the disaster.
As a result, many suggested Nenshi might be better suited to helping Toronto with the floods:
I hope mayor ford in toronto was watching @nenshi for lessons in how to be amazing, sensible and a leader.. Toronto might need him. Uh oh.— RAGHAV (@raghavworldwide) July 8, 2013
you're up, rob ford: let's see you deliver information to your people with empathy, compassion, understanding, patience and humour. @nenshi— hitthepost (@hitthepost) July 9, 2013
OH NO Toronto! Stay safe tonight with the flooding. Sorry that you don't have our super @nenshi to help bring calm to the storm.— Kyle Shewfelt (@kyleshew) July 9, 2013
Though at least one called for some perspective Tuesday morning:
(maybe don't compare yesterday to the Calgary flooding, nor Nenshi's to Ford's response - Calgary was way way worse, a state of emergency)— the only OK jeff (@je2fs) July 9, 2013
However, as of Tuesday afternoon, Ford’s Twitter stream was more active, particularly with tweets updating residents on the power outages:
In the wake of yesterday's flooding, Torontonians are being asked to reduce their electricity use today. #Toronto— Ford Family (@TorontoRobFord) July 9, 2013
I am extremely proud of our staff for working through the night. I am also very proud of the people of #Toronto for helping each other out.— Ford Family (@TorontoRobFord) July 9, 2013
I have requested regular updates from Toronto Hydro, until power is restored to every household in our City. #Toronto— Ford Family (@TorontoRobFord) July 9, 2013
With files from James Armstrong