Worst rainfall that triggered floods in Florida is over as affected residents clean up

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Although more rain could trigger additional isolated Florida flooding on Friday, forecasters say the strong, persistent storms that dumped up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) in southern parts of the state appear to have passed.

Some neighborhood streets in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas still have standing water, although it is rapidly receding, officials said.

“The worst flooding risk was the last three days,” said Sammy Hadi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “The heaviest rainfall has concluded.”

The no-name storm system pushed across Florida from the Gulf of Mexico at roughly the same time as the early June start of hurricane season, which this year is forecast to be among the most active in recent memory amid concerns that climate change is increasing storm intensity.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a media briefing in Hollywood, south of Fort Lauderdale, and said while more rain was coming, it’s likely to be more typical of South Florida afternoon showers this time of year.

“We are going to get some more rain today, maybe throughout the balance of the weekend. Hopefully it’s not approaching the levels that it was, but we have a lot of resources staged here and we’ll be able to offer the state’s assistance,” he said.

DeSantis said the state has deployed about 100 pumps in addition to what cities and counties are using to try to clear water from streets.

Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said while flooding was extensive, there were no reports of destroyed homes and very few of severely damaged homes. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported.

“We don’t think there’s going to be enough damage to necessarily qualify for a federal disaster declaration,” DeSantis said. But he added the storms may have affected enough business to qualify for Small Business Administration assistance.

The downpours hit Tuesday and continued into Wednesday, delaying flights at two of the state’s largest airports and leaving vehicles waterlogged and stalled in some of the region’s lowest-lying streets. The main problem was hundreds of vehicles that were stranded on streets as people were unable to navigate the flood waters.

“Looked like the beginning of a zombie movie,” said Ted Rico, a tow truck driver who spent much of Wednesday night and Thursday morning helping to clear the streets of stalled vehicles. “There’s cars littered everywhere, on top of sidewalks, in the median, in the middle of the street, no lights on. Just craziness, you know. Abandoned cars everywhere.”

Rico, of One Master Trucking Corp., was born and raised in Miami and said he was ready for the emergency.

“You know when its coming,” he said. “Every year it’s just getting worse, and for some reason people just keep going through the puddles.”

In Aventura, north of Miami, Juan Gomez, a 27-year resident of South Florida, has never seen flooding as severe as the recent storm that hit his rental unit. He said Friday he is preparing for future storms, having experienced firsthand the devastating effects of flooding on his property Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We were taking water from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. that night. And we did as much as we could. Yeah, but still some furniture got damaged. Some of the kitchen cabinets and the bathroom cabinets got damaged because of the water and the material in the floors, definitely, they need to be changed," Gomez said.

“So it is hard and we have to be prepared," he added. "We are going to be more prepared. In fact, we are trying to get some supplies if something comes in the few next weeks. So, like sandbags, more supplies to be prepared.”

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Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in St. Petersburg, Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Cody Jackson in Aventura and Stephany Matat in Hallandale Beach contributed to this story.

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