Hurricane Hazel - 50 years later October 1954 Hurricane Hazel


YOUR STORIES

Hurricane Hazel Personal Accounts

Lorraine Harrison
I was seven years old and living in Willowdale, the northern part of the City of Toronto, when Hazel hit. My parents had bought a new home in March of that year and... More...

Donna Reid, Whitby, Ontario
I was six years old when Hurricane Hazel hit our town of Whitby, Ontario in October 1954. I had two small brothers -- Jimmy was four years old and Terry was only one year old. My parents huddled us all into the biggest bedroom and the candles were lit.More...

Pamela Connell, Toronto, Ontario
I was 12 years old living in Toronto, Jane and Eglinton area, and awoke to the sound of a neighbour calling to my mother--dad was on night shift. My sister and I ran to the window, to see rapids of water surrounding the house and fields--moving at tremendous speed, carrying rooftops, fridges, trees and other household items. More...

Shelia Hobbs, Franklin, Virginia
When Hurricane Hazel struck my small community of Franklin, Virginia I was six years old. My older brother and I lived with my grandmother in a modest home which did not have electricity. More...

Russell Farrell, Angus, Ontario
I was only nine months old when Hurricane Hazel arrived in Toronto. I remember riding on a TTC Bus on Victoria Park with my mother. I could see the dark clouds out the back window of the bus. More...

Submitted by Kenny Neilson of Sarnia, Ontario
What follows is Peter Bart's comments about the song he wrote:
On the night of October 16, 1954 - Passenger Train No. 179, Engine 1319 left the city of Palmerston, Ontario.
Destination:
The city of Southampton located on the shores of Lake Huron. More...

Jason Cranks, Richer, Manitoba
It was 1954, I felt a vibration on the wooden floor from underneath me... it was horrible. The winds lifted up the roof to my house. At that time we all scattered to the basement. Richer, Manitoba was the towns name I lived in at the time, it was the worst storm I had ever seen.

Helen Bates, Belleville, Ontario
My husband, Peter Bates, whose grandmother Mrs. Alice Hargreaves was rescued from a tree during the flooding from Hurricane Hazel, wishes me to write you to thank you for your Web site. More...

Dave Vandale, Richer, Manitoba
Back in 1954, Hazel blew into our town Richer Manitoba, A rural municipality of St. Anne Manitoba. I was eight years old at the time. I remember the storm vividly. It almost blew my sister away if not for my big brother tackling her and holding her down. There is never any mention of Hazel hitting our area, yet there was lots of damage. Of course Richer Manitoba was primarily farm land. They had a country newspaper back then called the Manitoba Free Press but I could never find anything in archives about Hazel.

Arthur John Boyko, Detroit, Michigan USA
I was 4 years old at the time. The winds picked up here in Detroit while my mother was getting on with making supper. Dad came home from work and, the phone rang. More...

John Heisey, Lancaster, PA
I was very young when Hazel hit us, 3 1/2 years young. Although I enjoy storms, nature, now, I did not enjoy what Hazel did to this Heisey kid. She blew over our cherry tree in the back yard. She will be forever cemented in my memory, that witch.

Jan Perry
I lived with my parents in Garner, NC. I remember trees blocking all the roads and air planes flipped at our local airport. Mom and Dad were trying to hold our big picture window to keep it from breaking. The whole thing was scary and it took a long time to clean the mess up.

Barbara Eggleston
I was between five and six years old when Hazel ripped through our little village - Homer, New York. Homer is located in the 7 Valley Region of the Finger Lakes area in central N.Y. More...

She was no lady... Hurricane Hazel, by Wallace Rombough
Friday, October 15, 1954 began as just another rainy day. It had been an October no different from others in the past, with fall flowers in bloom and the grass still green. But it had also been wetter, with more rain than usual. More...

Kenneth Gibbs' recollection of Hurricane Hazel
My particular recollection of Hurricane Hazel was on Friday, October 15, 1954, when I was delivering furniture for a large department store (Eaton's) in the west end of Toronto. More...

The McLeans—A Night to Remember
Nelson and Winnie McLean, their four-month-old daughter, Sue, and 14-month-old son, Calvin, were living in a rented two-bedroom house in Islington, where the usually placid and meandering Black Creek ran past the back end of their property. More...

The De Peuter Family
The Holland Marsh became a lake in the flood and one house became a life raft for an entire family. The De Peuter family spent the night stranded in their house as it floated around the marsh. More...

Diana and Bobby Radley
Diana Radley and her brother Bobby were swept away from their mother as the boat they were being rescued in was overturned. More...

Bryan Mitchell, volunteer fireman—Raymore Drive
"I felt so helpless, but there was nothing I could do, nothing anybody could do. The water was so deep, up to our chins, and all the firemen were weighed down by clothing and boats and equipment. More...

Kingsway-Lambton Firemen
Five firefighters from the Kingsway-Lambton Fire Station were killed when they went to rescue people stranded in a car by floodwaters on the Humber. The fire truck the men were driving became stuck on a flooded street and overturned, tossing the men into the water. More...

Nicholson's attempt to save Jack Bates
Nicholson shares his story of his brave, yet unsuccessful attempt to rescue Jack Bates, who was later rescued from the Don River when a boat pulled him to safety. More...

Mrs. May Lovett's sister's experience in Woodbridge
"She was sitting in the living room and her husband was on the night shift in Malton. She looked up and saw water coming across the floor; she woke the children and put some clothes on them and then hurried out onto the veranda in the front. More...

Norm Clift and Fire Chief Houston relate their Long Branch rescue attempts
"If I remember right, there were 10 or 12 of us—three in the cab and the balance, in the box. We then started down the road and our first stop was at a cottage-style home whose older residents (the Thorpe's) refused to be evacuated on the grounds of having gone through floods before and going to ride this one out also. More...

Ted Ryan describes flooding in the Rouge River Valley
"Shortly after 10:00 that night, the phone rang. It was my friend and neighbour, Fred Hunt. He asked me if he could borrow my auto-top boat, which we used for duck hunting, as he had gotten word at the corner store that there were one or two families stranded in the lower Rouge River due to flooding. More...

J.R. McFadden assists with recovery—setting up a central morgue
"A voice on the car radio was asking for volunteers to go to the Etobicoke Police Station. As soon as we stepped into the line for volunteers, we were selected out of line and taken to the coroner's office. More...

Jim Davis assists in search-and-recovery mission
In the fall of 1954, I was a sergeant in the Governor General's Horse Guards (Armored) Militia, located at the University Avenue Armories in Toronto. More...

Addy and Auke Ellens survive the Holland Marsh
I wondered if we could survive if the water chased us out onto the roof. We watched at the windows and soon saw a strange site. There came, as if it were a ghost ship, a house approaching, riding the waves. More...

Edo Knibbe remembers his harrowing night on the marsh
"The flooding of the Holland Marsh on October 15, 1954 is one occasion that is not easily forgotten by those who were part of the Springdale community at that time…" More...

James Crawford risked his life over and over again…
…"During the early evening of October 15, and having observed the growing ferocity of the escalating storm, I commented strongly to my elder brother to come with me. 'We can make heroes of ourselves tonight,' I said, intending to go to the area of the Humber River to witness the rise of the flowing waters…" More...

A letter from Joan
"…I came to Milton as a young bride. Our children were born and raised here. Until reading the article, I don't think I had realized the devastation of Hazel or how wide an area her destruction had hit…" More...

The Doucette family's narrow escape
"…To get away from the rising water, all of us moved to the stairs. The front living room window crashed in with the force of the water. We were at the top of the stairs, near the attic. My mom was screaming for help—we had nowhere else to go..." More...

Doug Norris will never forget
"…Exciting and scary stuff for a five-year-old. I'll never forget." More...

Barbara Flanagan was only eight years old, and what an impression Hazel left
"…I called my mother recently and we talked about Hurricane Hazel. I asked her why, through all of the years, we really never spoke about the hurricane, her answer was simply, "I guess we just wanted to forget that night." Mom and dad lost everything…" More...

Hazel fueled a lifelong interest and career path for Barbara Jeffrey
"…the heroism shown by so many people and the sad recollections of hearing neighbours' and strangers' voices cease after frantic calls for help, my story seems small and insignificant, but in some respects it has fuelled a lifelong interest and career." More...

Diane Miller... I was only eight years old.
I was only 8 years old ... but, I remember waking up during the night and hearing everyone talking about the hurricane. More...

Paul Appleby, Nova Scotia
I was 10 years old at the time. We were living in North Toronto on Oriole Parkway just north of Eglinton Avenue. I remember our roof being narrowly missed by a very large tree branch.More...

                    
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Share Your Story
hazel@trca.on.ca

Were you there on October 15, 1954? Perhaps on the days following when emergency services and communities were devoted to search-and-rescue and clean-up efforts? Do you have a story of a family member's or friend's experience?

Share your story or photographs with us. Stories should be provided as text within the body of the e-mail. Please limit your submission to 1,000 words. Images should be provided in GIF or JPEG format. All stories and images submitted will be reviewed for posting on this Web site.

Story submissions may also be faxed to (416) 661-6274, attention Hurricane Hazel Coordinator, or mailed to Hurricane Hazel Coordinator at Toronto and Region Conservation, 5 Shoreham Drive, Downsview, ON M3N 1S4. Please do not send original photographs, as we can not guarantee their return. Toronto and Region Conservation reserves the right to post or not post stories.

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