Tag Archives: Extreme Weather

Only Child’s thoughts after the big hurricane May 4 in Southern Ontario

Calm few days after the storm

The day after the big wind storm – hurricane wind levels in Toronto – I was on my knees clearing out my garden. Not debris from the wind, but part of the annual clean-the-garden-in-the-spring ritual. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the man walk by. Although I didn’t know him I said, “good afternoon.”

I’m glad I did. Turns out he was a friend of Marie one of the seniors across the street. Marie had some damage to her roof from the winds and “she was freaking out he said. Do you know of anyone who could help fix it?”

I sprang into action. For the life of me I could not recall the name of the company who put up my roof in fall 2009 but I did know some neighbours who would know somebody. I directed him to my next door neighbour who works in construction and another one across the street who just retired from working in construction. Next door wasn’t in but Larry across the street was. After the man clarified the name of the fellow across the street and went to bang on his door, I went into high help mode.

I had to find the name of the company that did my roof. I knew it began with “E” and wasn’t a person’s first and/or last name. Dived into a few files. Nothing. Finally found a few old (like a couple of years) small brochures of home repairs/improvements companies and voila – and my roofers were listed in one brochure. It didn’t appear that they did roof repairs but if Marie ended up needing a new roof, I could recommend them. So I copied over their number on one of those memo pads real estate agents drop off – you know the ones with your name printed on the top – their play to get more business, I suppose. And with the brochure and the memo sheet and my house keys, I locked the doors and ran across the street to Marie’s.

The friend’s truck was still in the driveway, the front inside door was open and an array of shoes were discarded in the front hall. I knocked and knocked but no answer, so ran around to the backyard. No one. Came back to the front and knocked again because I could hear voices. No one came, so I returned to the driveway and could voices from a window, so called  out “It’s Sharon from across the street.” The  man who had talked to me said he would meet me at the front door. I met him there, and Marie, and the man’s wife and their two kids and the wife’s sister and her husband. They were the family of Marie’s late boyfriend.

Marie told  me that Larry had been there and said he would call his sons and see if they could come the next day (The did. I saw them there). Marie also complained about the roof she had – newer than mine – she’s had the roofer back three times to fix shingles. That’s not a very professional job done. So I wrote down the name and info of my roofer with the caveat – the owner, who do the estimate don’t go on the roof and because of that they missed the correct number of layers of old shingles on my roof – and I got charged more. But the actual workers did an excellent job, including their foreman who found the third layer when he inspected it just before they began doing the work and told me – he should be doing estimates.

“Make sure they go on the roof to check,” I told Marie.

I also gave her the name and phone number of the handyman who does plumbing, painting, electrical and other repairs and Marie and I exchanged phone numbers. The latter we should have done within a year after I moved into my house. I’ve been here nearly 20 years.

My wake-up call. Especially after reading online yesterday and watching the 11 p.m. news and finding that 500 homes in pockets of Toronto still didn’t have their power restored. Didn’t Toronto Hydro learn anything from the big ice storm in December 2013. True, there were downed trees and power lines from Friday’s hurricane but no ice. More likely not enough people doing the work. Again, didn’t Toronto Hydro learn anything from the ice storm of December 2013?

With this in mind and the below story in mind, where governments of all level in the US and Canada, forget about seniors during various hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, I decided it is really up to us who can do so to help. This story was published in Zoomer magazine last month and I’m linking to the online story. The photo (scroll down a bit) of the seniors sitting in water up to their waists in a nursing home because the authorities forgot about them breaks my heart. It took the son-in-law of the nursing home owner to Tweet about it to get any action. Then the National Guard came to the rescue.

Ageism is still around, unfortunately.

Here’s the link.

http://www.everythingzoomer.com/health/2018/04/19/seniors-natural-disaster-relief/

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, Help and Support, Helping Others, Hydro power outage, Only child, Power Outages, Seniors, Toronto Hydro

Only Child asks: Spring flowers bring heavy showers?

Snow flower in my outside garden Apr 9

Still too cold outside but at least the sun is shining  for now. I’ve been doing indoor gardening and took some shots of that as well as outside.

Yes, I saw the first flowers outside – a lone crocus and some snow flowers and a few clumps of irises and tulip plants trying their best. Took some photos yesterday and Sunday. I’m going to need this hope for good spring weather because of what’s coming in a few days. I’m worried and on basement watch and warning.

Because it is coming again – more rain  – too much rain – too many mm of it over five or so days. With wind mostly from the East there is a big risk of water getting in my basement and others’ basements too.  See The Weather Network for Toronto. This is my big nightmare mostly caused by that contractor Nigel Applewaite who messed  up a few years ago supposedly waterproofing my basement. He didn’t dig deep enough and then had the nerve to blame it on the drains. Well, I had the city check the drains twice and they showed fine. After a half-ass attempt by contractor Nigel Applewaite to find out where the cracks were he had missed or new cracks in the part not waterproofed – he bailed out, washed his hands of it. He isn’t a member of the BBB so I  make a point of blacklisting him through word of mouth and word of blog.

Meantime, here are a few more garden photos – inside and outside that I took. Enjoy.

Tulips and Irises trying

And inside the house

Poinsettia still in April

Flowering begonia on bedroom windowsill

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Heavy Rains, Indoor Gardening, Life demands, Only child

Only Child weighs in on Toronto’s plans to mitigate extreme weather

Rooftop Garden Ryerson University Toronto. Sharon A. Crawford photo

Continuing on from last week’s post on extreme weather and the devastation it causes, some places are actually doing something. The City of Toronto, for example is tackling the flooding issue by upgrading its storm and sewer systems in the older parts of Toronto. I live in one of them and because a previous council and Mayor screwed up back in 2000, with the sewers in my area (they put in the wrong type that apparently don’t do the job), it all has to be done again. My area is scheduled to have the streets, etc. dug up in 2020 or 2021. Because of the mess and more than inconvenience to me and the others in my neighbourhood with that fiasco, I am on watch and warning and have let my councillor know and why.

But the city councillors may have learned some lessons in that all upgrades will be done with other repairs, upgrades in the area at the same time, finishing up one area with all – sewers, street lights, intersections, streetscapes on the main street-  before going to the next. And we will have contact people and their info to nail if things go wrong. They are also going to make sure we know where to put our garbage and recycling during that time as that was one of the big complaints in 2000.

Logistics covered, what exactly is the point of the new storm sewers as far as basement flooding is concerned? I know from experience that not all basement flooding is caused by sewer systems that can’t hold all the excess rainfall water. My situation of basement flooding has a lot to do with foundation cracks, most of which are the fault of that jerk contractor Nigel Applewaite who didn’t do the water proofing correctly – he didn’t dig down far enough and when I called him on it, blamed it on drains and said to get the drains checked by the City. I did – twice – no problem then.

But, old storm sewers, catch basins and the like can factor in. I just have to look on my street and neighbouring streets to see how few catch basins there are and how the water puddles on the street. And why do I have two catch basins close together on my street when the others basins are so far apart? For those  more information on how storm sewers and the like operate go here.  As all this takes time, let’s hope it isn’t too little too late.

The other thing the City of Toronto has been doing  since 2010 requires new buildings of a certain height (and other criteria) to build a roof garden – this one is mainly to create more diversity, but also to help offset one aspect of global warming – help keep roofs and inside cooler on those extreme hot and humid summer days. Vegetation will do that. In fact Toronto has been touted as being the North American city with the most green roof space.

Then there is  global warming and one other thing cities seem to have way too much of – concrete. Concrete does not absorb water from rainstorms. Maybe the city should also consider getting rid of a lot of the concrete on the ground and putting in grass or gardens. Actually, there is some progress here. My area’s sewer replacement program includes putting in a water garden in the middle of one of the residential roads. Maybe we need more of that. And downtown open areas are being made into parks. Which is all good.

Here are some links to roof and other gardens.

Twelve of Toronto’s Roof Gardens

Toronto Botanical Gardens

High Park Garden in Toronto

Meantime, the extreme weather keeps barrelling in everywhere in the world. No place is safe anymore to live. God doesn’t seem to be doing much, if anything,  to help so we have to try to fix it ourselves.

I can’t put in a roof garden – even if I could afford it. My roof slants. But I have over the years planted perennial, herb and vegetable gardens in the ground – front and back of the house. I’ve had my downspouts disconnected and had extensions put on them, and have heat cables on the roof to try to melt snow and prevent it from changing to ice and ending up with ice jams, which when melting can end up in the basement. And letting others know who not to hire to water proof their basements.

What are you doing to offset global warming and the like?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Rooftop Garden Ryerson University up close. Sharon A. Crawford photo

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Basement Flooding, Gardens, Global Warming, Only child

Devastation from unholy weather continues in eastern Canada and US

Downtown Johnson, Vermont after flooding and snow. Dan Noyes photo

The disastrous weather continues and escalates. We in Toronto, Canada were spared – this time – with a bit of freezing drizzle and a bit of snow at the end of last week, but the east coast of Canada (particularly Corner Brook, Newfoundland and the United States (particularly Vermont) got flooded and iced out.

We are living in war zones, folks, and it doesn’t look like it will get better.

For those of you who blame all climate change on us humans – that  isn’t the whole story. When 20 to 21 per cent of climate change is caused by volcanoes, you can’t put the guilty tag on humans for that one. And there are scientific and historical facts that bluntly point to humans not being responsible. There is also plenty of the reverse – humans caused climate change and in doing so all the mess our climate is in now.

Here are a few links for both sides of the global warming issue. I’ll let you read for yourself and decide.

One hundred reasons why climate change is natural and not man-made

And a CBC story from Newfoundland with interviews, photos and videos of the devastation here
You can Google for more stories – pro and con.
My take? Some human causes; some “natural” causes.
And maybe “dog” spelled backwards has something to do with the natural causes – depending on what your beliefs are about God and how the world began.
One thing is clear to me. God does not seem to be listening to us most of the time when we ask to be spared from the devastating weather that destroys our homes, our cities and towns, our countries, our lives – yes, floods, ice storms, etc. kill people. Or help us when we ask for help in the aftermath. I am always amazed, and yes dismayed, when people who have lost their homes and are displaced thank God they are still alive. Be that as it may, I would like to revisit their stories six months down the road and see how they feel then.
So what is the answer?
I haven’t got one that will fix it all. But folks, I do know, we have to deal with all this devastation ourselves- prevention, when it happens, and afterwards. We are doing the latter  two – we are forced to. Prevention? Yes, some places had plans to fix that damn, etc., but then the floods came – with heavy rains. Too little too late.
Next post I’m going to show what the City of Toronto is doing towards the flooding issue (and let’s hope it is not too late).
Meantime, here is another recent flooding picture from Newfoundland

Washout near Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Anthony Germain CBC photo

Cheers.
Sharon
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, God

Only Child says snow and rain four-letter words

The weather outside is, has been and will be horrid this winter. This is not just in southern Ontario, but all over Canada, all over the US, all over the world. We can’t get away from it – no matter where we live. We cannot run; we cannot hide. This is a sad and sorry fact of life. And for those Pollyannas who look on the so-called bright side of the weather, unfortunately there isn’t much of a bright side with weather except for the sun when it is actually shining – not when the weather forecasts call for sunshine. What is called for and what is predicted don’t always match.

But often they do match – and it can get bad as the folks in Florida and other southern states found out a few days ago with the snow and freezing rain and in 2017 with the hurricanes. Then there are all the forest fires, floods, and tornadoes. As an example, if you want to put it in dollars and cents (definitely, not “sense”), the cost for all these “natural” disasters in the US for 2017 was $306 billion dollars. And these disasters also killed people. Read the story here in the Washington Post – story also goes into disasters around the world.

On a personal level in winter I am now in constant alert and have to do so many extra chores to try to protect my  small bungalow and its small property.  I have two sets of heat cables – one on the roof and in the eavestroughs and one around one downspout and its extension where ice jams form in below zero (Celcius) weather. I have snow on the roof to worry about and this year especially one corner where it piled up. This was in the Christmas holidays when no one was around to help me. So there I was standing on a patio chair and trying to remove the worst of it with a light-weight bamboo rake. To paraphrase a saying of a late aunt who was only 4’ll”, “I don’t know why the bad Lord made me so short.” I am only 5 ‘1″ and this is one of the few times I resent my lack of height. At that point I wasn’t concerned if it killed me, but because I was concerned about getting maimed, I was careful. I did manage to knock some off the eavestrough part, but the rest was stubborn – the heat cables were working for the rest of the roof and eavestroughs, but not that one corner  right in front of the chimney. I didn’t want and don’t want water getting into my attic or basement when it melts or my roof to collapse.

And for the first time in 10 years I don’t  have someone to shovel my snow regularly and for pay. Christmas Day, when my son and his girlfriend came to visit, they had to finish shovelling what I had struggled to do earlier that day. I notice some of my neighbours helping other neighbours shovelling some of their snow and without being asked.  But none of them bother with helping me with the snow shovelling when it is heavy. I guess they figure I’m out there shovelling and I can do it. Hah!

We have a warm spell now and it should help some. But not for long as we are going to get hit with a heavy storm Friday into Saturday – depending on where we live it might include ice. And that terrifies me because I remember the big ice storm here of December 2013, including its big power outage.

Monday morning there was a two-hour power outage and it included my area – this one had nothing to do with weather but everything to do with Hydro One screwing up with getting its power supply to Toronto.

Fortunately my street and the surrounding area was spared. A miracle? Does it give me hope for the future? Like snow and rain and hell, hope is a four-letter word. Over the years, and particularly the last 17, I’ve learned that particularly where weather is concerned, it is best not to wallow in being Polyanna. So I expect the worst because a lot of the time it happens. I have learned not to take much for granted. I have learned to be thankful for what is good that happens and to express my gratitude for it. But I have learned that unfortunately life contains a big hunk of darkness. Do I embrace this darkness? Never. But I am wary and try to keep informed.

Maybe that is my old journalist training. But it is more likely to be what I have learned from living. And I am a senior so I think I can truthfully say I have been around for a few decades.

Below are a few photos to recap the horrid weather in 2017

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Backyard patio snowed in

 

Williams Lake fire,photo courtesy of Stephane Livolski – from The Weather Network

 

François Lussier rows along a flooded street in the town of Rigaud, Que., west of Montreal, on May 8, 2017.
GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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Filed under Eavestroughs and dowspouts, Extreme Weather, Ice Storm Southern Ontario, Life demands, Snow, snow shovelling, Uncategorized

Only Child on Christmas present

Martin and Juni by Christmas tree

I play all the Christmas songs over and over again because they  may be our only hope for good times in this world, not just during the Christmas season but in 2018. And since I promised in last week’s post that this week ‘s post would deal with what Christmas means to me today, here goes. Things have definitely changed. The only magic about Christmas is in those songs and the Christmas (new and old) movies on TV. So, I’m going to do a summary of some of the things that got messed up in my lead-up to Christmas and well, on Christmas Day too. It serves as an example, personally, but sadly some of it is the way it is elsewhere.

1. I got sick with a throat infection including a cough December 11. It lasted about a week. I had to cancel going to the Christmas dinner held by the writers networking group I belong to. Turns out three others were just getting sick and probably not going.

2. That same week I was sick, we had some rain mixed with snow and because some snow was already on the ground, some water got in the basement in the corner by the entrance from driveway to backyard. Not the usual place for water to get in and not anything to do with the contractor who messed up waterproofing on the other side. Just weather and we know who controls that and it’s not The Weather Network or Environment Canada. So I had to get the handyman in to add heating cables to the outside of the downspout. Now I go from roof heating cables to downspout cables as turning both on at the same time will cause the circuit breaker for that area to kick in and I lose power in that area of the house – inside and out.

3. I decided to take two weeks off from client work and book promo from December 19. Because of the house crap and being sick I got behind in getting the little bit of food and two more Xmas presents I still had to buy. Because I don’t have a car it was numerous trips on public transit  three afternoons in a row. I ended up returning home in rush hour which was particularly slow and miserable  the third day because some of the subway service was cut out for a few hours a someone jumped onto the tracks at a subway station. While I usually have empathy for someone so troubled they want to end it all, that doesn’t extend to jumping in front of a train because it messes it all up for thousands of commuters. Enough said here.

4. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We already had a white Christmas from a previous recent snowfall and didn’t need anymore. But I guess God decided otherwise. Christmas Day I got out there to shovel at least the veranda and enough of the driveway so my son could get his girlfriend’s dad’s car in. But it was too much and I was out of breath and shaking my fist at the sky. When Martin phoned I told told him about the situation and he said just to shovel a narrow path for them to get in and he would shovel the driveway, which he did with Juni’s help around the back of the house. But not before…

5. The power suddenly went out late Christmas morning. “No! No! No!” I yelled, shaking my fist at the sky and telling God to get the power back on – after all it is Christmas Day and as I found out when I called Toronto Hydro – it was widespread in East York and Scarborough parts of Toronto. For once God must have heard (must be because of many thousands of people affected) – power went back on five minutes later, so I adjusted the only two electric clocks I have in the kitchen. Then the power went off again and I did my fist-shaking at the sky scenario again. But it came back on two minutes later and stayed on. But I left the wall clock as is,  hanging crookedly, just in case.

These are just a few things. You didn’t want me to summarize them all – that would be at least a book chapter. But, if you go through them, you can see that at least four of them are representative of what is going on in the world today. Some places in Canada, and elsewhere, got worst weather and had longer power outages. And not just at Christmas. This is a year long thing and is indicative of the world going to hell (or should that be heaven?) in a very over-sized basket.

And then there are the crowds shopping before and after (Boxing Day sales – I no longer do the latter) although online buying is helping to diminish the in person shopping and crowding. Getting sick with viruses and other things is way up in winter all over. For example, the Weather Network’s graph of flu occurrences shows widespread in southern Ontario. And that’s just one area. It looks like the world is killing us. Because of all this, personal and worldwide, church attendance and religion (except for the extreme fanaticism) is down. With the weather New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day, attendance was lowered it even more.

Okay, there was one bright spot at Christmas – Martin and Juni spending Christmas Day here with me. We exchanged presents and had good conversations sitting in the living room near the tree. (See photo above for my tiny not real Christmas tree – rather appropriate but more because my tiny house has no room for big trees). Dinner which I cooked was good – we cleaned our plates and dessert dishes – despite me overcooking the brussel sprouts and the chicken – which I had placed upside down in the roasting pan. Martin had brought the fresh strawberries I had asked him to bring in case I didn’t get the apple crisp made. I did make the crisp on Christmas Eve. So we ate some strawberries with ice cream for dessert and I sent some of the apple crisp in a plastic container home with them.

Martin also did some updating/upgrading of the operating system on my Mac laptop – which took four and a half hours but he just had to check it occasionally for the downloads and then do the installation. They also got here safely and back home safely.

So all that made my Christmas. The rest is all true over the world. Unfortunately. God needs to listen to us and help us. Clearly, we aren’t doing it right and maybe can’t do it alone. I’m not holding my breath, though. I am someone who has learned from experience and what I have learned doesn’t bode too well for planet earth.

But let’s hope I’m wrong. May 2018 be better for all of us.

Next week I’ll go into New Year’s Resolutions, with a twist.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Sharon and Martin Christmas Day

 

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Filed under Christmas, Christmas stress, Church Attendance, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Only child, Problems, Snow, Winter Weather, World Environment

Canada Day got rained on

People walk through puddles on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Canada Day 150. (Fred Chartrand/THE CANADIAN PRESS) See story and more photos here.

 

This photo from a Canadian Press story gives one instance of the many Canada Day celebrations in southern and eastern Ontario which were pelted with rain. Ottawa, Canada’s capital was filled with puddles in the main celebration vein on Parliment Hill. Here in east Toronto, I finally made it to the local celebrations at Stan Wadlow Park. It is my Canada Day tradition to do this – check out all the vendors, stay around for some of the music performances, walk through the Rockery Garden and sit by the garden for a lunch that I make and bring. After that, I usually go for a long walk in that neighbourhood to look at and see the front of people’s gardens and their Canada Day flags and other celebration paraphernalia. In this walk, I wind my way back to one of the main streets and get on a bus to go home.

Not this July 1. I had visited all the booths and was just heading across the grass for the Rockery when the rain started to come down. It had been grey skies with a little sun when I left home but I had taken my chances. This was Canada Day and I wanted to celebrate. So, I brought rain gear – umbrella and raincoat and wore my rain-proofed shoes.

Might as well have worn an evening gown. All the good that rain gear did. I made it to under the big overhang of the clubhouse – as did several other people before it came down harder. No point hanging around until it stopped as the grass would be puddles and messy. But the rain gear didn’t really help when I stepped out to leave, so it was back under the overhang until the rain trickled down to a drizzle. Then, shaking my fist at the sky, I left.

So much for celebrating at a community event. I didn’t bother going to the fireworks after dark as I didn’t want to sit on damp ground.

The rain returned in batches of heavy rain and thunderstorms on Sunday too. But I manged to get back to Stan Wadlow park and walked through the Rockery. And I brought a lunch which I sat on the bench and ate. But no long walk around the neighbourhood. I had barely finished eating when the dark skies were back so I hurried to the nearby bus stop, and got on the bus just before  it poured. But this time I wasn’t heading for home. This time I headed down to Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto where the festivities were supposed to be continuing. There was something going on, but I had missed the best of it. At least it had stopped raining and the sun was shining. Maybe I should have headed down to Sugar Beach for the Redpath Festival. By the beach on the lake was parked a very large rubber duck. Despite it’s lack of appropriateness for Canada Day per se, the rubber ducky was appropriate for all this wet rainy weather. Mr. Duck was in the right place at the right time.

Monday, yesterday was fine – lots of sun and warm. I walked locally for a mile and a quarter and did some gardening as well as some weekly housecleaning. And I cooked. Nothing stopped me from cooking this weekend. And eating. And raising a glass of white wine to toast Canada Day 150.

But all this rain we have been making me think. Especially as my hose is still curled up from when the handyman fixed the tap and put on a new attachment at the other end of the hose – over a month ago. I haven’t needed to use that hose yet. We are really being rained off this earth – if you look at all the photos and videos from around the world. With the exception of a few places like parts of California, earth has turned into a huge washout. Is there a  message in this? Should we start building arks or going to outer space?

I also decided to check out a few rain statistics. Here are a few links to check out

National Weather Office in Georgia

The Weather Network (pick your city and pick your video).

And less we forget about just one of the big rainfalls this spring and early summer. Here’s one town in Quebec.


François Lussier rows along a flooded street in the town of Rigaud, Que., west of Montreal, on May 8, 2017.
GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

In Toronto, Toronto Island, across one part of Lake Ontario, is still closed to visitors. Only those who live there and make deliveries are allowed. No ferry boats of tourists. But on a good note the water on Woodbine Beach is receding.

And here’s my dormant hose.

 

Perhaps if we all shook our fists at the sky. Collectively. Like a reverse rain dance. Never mind what your beliefs of why the rain. All this rain, heavy winds, tornadoes and the like come from the sky.

One two three. Shake that fist.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Canada Day, Extreme Weather, Floods, Only child, Rain