DeSantis declares state of emergency for South Florida amid heavy flooding

Updated

MIAMI - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for South Florida Wednesday evening after 24 hours of inclement weather brought heavy rain and flooding to the region.

Flash flood warnings were issued for parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, where rainfall rates of several inches an hour submerged streets and snarled traffic.

The city of Sarasota was swamped Tuesday, with a record 3.93 inches of rain falling in just one hour. The rain forcing ground stops at both Miami International and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airports, causing delays in excess of seven hours.

People walk through a flooded street on June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Florida. As tropical moisture passes through the area, areas have become flooded due to the heavy rain. / Credit: Getty Images
People walk through a flooded street on June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Florida. As tropical moisture passes through the area, areas have become flooded due to the heavy rain. / Credit: Getty Images

"We were looking at renting a vehicle to try and make it even to Orlando and maybe get on a flight but that isn't going to work either," frustrated traveler Chris Stephens told CBS Miami.

In a statement, the governor's office said that the severe weather and flash flooding prompted DeSantis to declare state of emergencies for Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade and Sarasota counties. 

Earlier in the day, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis also declared states of emergency, along with the cities of Dania Beach and Sunny Isles Beach.

"Due to ongoing heavy rainfall, several roadways throughout the City of Fort Lauderdale, including major thoroughfares like Broward Boulevard and Federal Highway near downtown are experiencing high water levels," Trantalis said on X.

In Dania Beach, there were at least 40 rescues conducted by police and fire crews, CBS News Miami learned.

Periods of heavy rain continued to flood low-lying areas, with poor drainage throughout South Florida.

In Lee County on the Gulf Coast, emergency officials had to rescue at least one driver from floodwaters. Farther north, a possible tornado brought down trees and powerlines in Martin County.

The storms are part of a stalled system that's pummeled Florida, dumping a month's worth of rain in just 24 hours, with more rain forecast this week.

A flood advisory remained in effect for Miami-Dade and Broward counties through 10 p.m. The National Weather Service also issued a rare flash flood emergency for portions of southern Broward County and northern Miami-Dade which expired at 8 p.m.

A flash flood warning was also issued for Broward and Miami-Dade. 

Iraida Rodriguez carries her dog, Benji, in a bag as she evacuates from her flooded home on June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Florida.  / Credit: Getty Images
Iraida Rodriguez carries her dog, Benji, in a bag as she evacuates from her flooded home on June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Florida. / Credit: Getty Images

The National Weather Service warned residents to "move to higher ground now! This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order."

Meanwhile, officials at MIA said at least 221 flights had been canceled and 165 had been delayed so far Tuesday, while at FLL there were at least 261 flight cancelations and 166 delays.

The Florida Panthers were on a three-hour delay at FLL before their flight took off to Edmonton, Canada, for Game 3 of their Stanley Cup Final series. 

South Florida officials said pump trucks were either in place or headed to flooded areas where they are needed.

In Broward County, part of I-95 had been closed due to flooding on the highway.

Power outages were also reported across South Florida, and some traffic lights had been affected, making an already dire driving situation even worse for drivers.

Florida Power & Light said there were more than 8,900 customers without power in Miami-Dade County as of Tuesday evening, and another approximately 1,900 without power in Broward County. 

Law enforcement was warning drivers in need of a tow to call tow truck companies first if possible, as opposed to immediately contacting police.

This wet, stormy weather pattern will hold in South Florida through the end of the work week, forecasters say, with the tropical moisture dissipating slightly by the weekend. That will leave the region a bit drier, but there will still be a chance for storms, but not nearly as widespread.

Over the past 24 hours, Miami Beach saw nearly 7 inches of rain, Hallandale Beach saw 6 inches of rain, while Hollywood, North Miami and Coral Gables received just over 5 inches.

The 4 to 6 inches of rain that fell Tuesday squashed the rainfall deficit in Miami-Dade County, and put a good dent in Broward's deficit.

However, forecasters say an additional 4 to 8 inches is possible over the next few days, and flooding risk will continue.

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