Walk up to any firefighter in Toronto, ask him where he was on Friday, September 24, 2010, and he won’t hesitate to tell you. Asking him this is like asking most people where they were on 9/11, or the day Kennedy or Diana died. Because that date, 24/9/10, is branded onto the collective memory of the Toronto Fire Services. By midnight that Friday, Toronto’s St James Town Community Center looked like a refugee camp, albeit a first-world one. People – men, women, children, babies, the elderly – were in the lobby, the halls, the gym, everywhere, mopped up and swept there by the emergency services. The human clutter that gets tossed aside in any disaster, they stood about and sat around, unsettled, dishevelled, coughing. The Red Cross, and a local politician, handed out pieces of pizza, slices of orange, and bottles of water. News hounds sought out anyone in the thousand-plus crowd who would talk. They asked questions and scribbled down answers. Some of the evacuees curled up on the temporary beds that had been wheeled in. Others, like John Ploeg, complained they couldn’t sleep on those things. ‘This,’ he said, looking around, ‘is Toronto’s Katrina.’ That day, the sun had been shinin...