Disasters & Accidents

Rain giving break to flooded SE Florida, but could return

Miami, Apr 13 (EFE).- The rain gave flooded SE Florida a break on Thursday, at least during the first half of the day, but the forecast was that it would resume Thursday afternoon as locals begin to better understand the effects of the historic storm that hit Fort Lauderdale the day before.

A flood alert remains in effect for the coastal and metropolitan counties of Broward and Miami-Dade up until 8 pm on Thursday, according to state authorities.

In Fort Lauderdale, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Miami and where an emergency has been declared, rainfall in the past 24 hours has been registered at 25.91 inches (65 centimeters), which experts cited in the media said is “historic.”

The previous 24-hour rainfall record in the region was for 23.28 inches and was set in 1980 in Key West, according to local television Channel 10.

Torrential rain has been falling all day long in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties on Wednesday, but hail has also been recorded and heavy wind gusts have been affecting the area since Sunday due to an almost stationary rain front.

In addition, in Broward County on Wednesday there were two tornadoes, which caused no damage, according to the National Weather Service.

The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, one of the busiest in Florida, had to be closed on Thursday due to flooding caused by the heavy rainfall and will not reopen until early Friday morning, weather conditions permitting.

In the area of the airport, on Thursday more than 17 inches of rain fell, according to local media.

The rains began on Sunday in South Florida and continued all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

In a Twitter post, Fort Lauderdale airport authorities said that due to the volume of water and the debris on airport surfaces, the reopening of the facility had been delayed to give them time to get at least one of the runways open on Friday.

The Web page of the airport shows that all outgoing and incoming flights scheduled for Thursday were cancelled or diverted to other airports.

In 2022, some 31.7 million passengers passed through the airport, where many low-cost air transport firms and airlines operate, according to the Web page.

Public schools in Broward County, which has the country’s sixth-largest school district, were closed on Thursday as a precaution due to the bad weather and no announcement has yet been made whether they will reopen on Friday.

Local television channels were transmitting images of entire neighborhoods where low-lying areas were flooded and numerous vehicles stranded in the water both in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.

The storm has highlighted the importance of continuing efforts to address climate resilience and to improve critical infrastructure, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said at a Thursday press conference.

The municipality has invested $200 million in a five-year plan focusing on building dikes and improving flood control systems and rainwater removal systems in low-lying areas, he said, adding that the storm was a “1,000-year storm” and that the damage will be evaluated before any request for assistance is made to Florida and/or national authorities.

In the city of Dania Beach, also in Broward County, authorities also declared a state of emergency due to local flooding.

Although Broward County has not requested state assistance at this time, the Florida Division of Emergency Management has deployed personnel to support local efforts, including gathering information about damage.

Personnel from the Florida Department of Transportation are using water pumps in flooded areas like the New River Tunnel and are helping open closed highways to traffic and to repair streetlights and traffic signals, according to a statement.

EFE –/bp

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