Heavy flooding causes home, vehicle damage across So. Fla.
Heavy flooding causes home, vehicle damage across So. Fla.
NORTHEAST MIAMI-DADE (WSVN) -- South Florida residents are dealing with the aftermath of the massive thunderstorms that battered the area Friday afternoon into early Saturday morning with near-record-setting rainfall.
Forecasters said the heavy downpours were the tail end of Tropical Storm Andrea, which even in its weakened state, continued to wreak havoc across the nation's Eastern seaboard with winds gusts of up to 45 mph.
Even though the rain has stopped along Northeast 144th Street in Northeast Miami-Dade, area residents woke up to streets that were still flooded with up to a foot and a half of water, as well as up to several inches inside some of their homes. In addition, sewage in the neighborhood was beginning to back up.
"It's all full of water," said Ana Aguilar as she waded from room to room in ankle-deep water inside her home. "I just finished taking all our important papers out."
There isn't a section in the Aguilars' residence that isn't under at least two inches of water. "We just moved here just a month ago," Aguilar revealed. The couple had just finished unpacking and preparing their new home when Friday's rains hit. Electronics, including their flatscreen TV and computer, were shorted out. The furniture is also swamped.
"We're workers that live check by check every week," she said. "And [we] lost a lot."
Whereas the Aguilars decided to stay in their home, other residents on Northeast 144th Street opted to leave. "[This is] something that I've never experienced before," said a woman. "I don't know, I want to move out of Miami," she added.
Another resident said the lack of electricity was a key factor behind her decision to temporarily leave her home. "Look at this," said Lynn as she carried some of her belongings in plastic bags. "We've been stuck in here. There's no power since last night. They said they had to shut it off because of security purposes."
In addition to backed up sewers, 7News reporters spotted a snake and a dead bird floating in the water.
"Something needs to be done, because this is the beginning of hurricane season," said Lynn.
Representatives from the Red Cross arrived to this location on Saturday and handed out ice, water and Gatorade to some of the people in the area. Since the power had not been restored, some of the residents' food had begun to rot.
The Red Cross is also offering shelter for displaced residents at the American Legion, located at 6445 Northeast Seventh Avenue in Miami.
Meanwhile, Broward homeowners were piling on the sandbags and trying to dry out from their soaking-wet homes. An apartment complex in Hollywood that bore the brunt of the storms on Friday was finally drying out and neighbors were out on the streets cleaning up the debris.
The driver of a powder blue Toyota Camry displaying a waterline reaching up to the upper portion of his tires said he was afraid to turn on his sedan.
Hollywood resident Chris Band cleaned up his home and aired out his car. Dozens of his belongings were laid out to dry in his front yard on 14th Avenue and Moffett Street. "People think I have a garage sale," he said. Band attempted to salvage his most valuable possession: his collection of Shakespearean photographs. "This alone is [worth] a few hundred dollars, but that's OK," he said as he pointed at the framed pictures.
Band said Friday night's downpour came fast. "It got four inches from entering into the house," he said. "So we had about two and a half feet of water."
Band said he's had previous flooding experience and that this is something that happens near his home every few years. "Crossing the street, the water was below my waist," he said. "I had to park the car three miles away."
Other drivers were not as fortunate as Band. Matt Ringsmuth said his girlfriend's car was waterlogged. "I couldn't even get the door open, so I told her to crawl out the window," he said.
In Hallandale Beach, residents picked up handbags and prepared their homes just in case heavy rains made an encore appearance. "They say [you should] cross the front gate with [sandbags]," said area resident Firoose. "That's the only place [the water] gets in. We have a storm drain out front, and as soon as that backs up, it comes right into my yard."
Friday's flash floods forced many motorists to abandon their vehicles in the middle of the street, and in some cases their insurance companies may not cover the costs.
Aventura Police said there were at least 150 disabled cars, several submerged in water from the knee-high rain. "I have no phone and no contact," said an elderly lady in the Aventura area. "And we had to wait for the tow people, and they told us they couldn't do anything last night."
One towing company in Miami said they towed over 200 cars within the past 24 hours and they were having difficulty keeping up with the calls. "It was terrible," said Alpine Towing employee Edwin Torres. "I mean, the calls are overwhelming. We have guys working 16, 17-hour shifts, I mean, just trying to help out the community."
Hallandale Auto Electric, a body shop in Hallandale Beach, said they were very busy on Saturday. "Good for me, bad for most people," said mechanic Todd Bourak. "It depends on how they look at it, but it's a part of life, part of living in Florida."
Towing companies and repair shops said they are now waiting on insurance adjusters. Insurance company officials advised drivers whose vehicles were towed or suffered damage to make sure they have a physical damage deductible. "Regardless of what the law says, you have to pay that amount said, Richard Estrella, Vice President at Estrella Insurance. "So either you break that threshold ... or, if it's a total loss, they're going to deduct $1,000 from the loss."
Officials also advised to look over your claims to determine whether your damages are covered and to keep a receipt if your car was towed. Those costs are likely covered as well.
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