Afternoon thunderstorms flood Miami Beach neighborhoods
“Oh, my God! My garage is flooded! I need to get my rain boots,” Valerie Navarrete, a 25-year resident of Miami Beach, yelled into the phone, as she hurried to the downstairs parking garage of her Lincoln Road building.
“I already lost a car to flooding here six or seven years ago,” Navarrete said. “Now, the garage is already up to three inches of water.”
As of 3:45 p.m., the city had already racked up about five inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service, which issued a flash flood warning for the region until 7:45 p.m. Meteorologists suggested drivers in eastern Miami-Dade County turn around when encountering flooded roads, which could put the vehicle, and its occupants, in danger.
Miami Beach wasn’t alone in getting soaked. Flood advisories also include Miami, Coral Gables, South Miami and Virginia Key.
Flooding also occurred throughout Miami’s Brickell and downtown neighborhoods.
The wet weather made for a rough rush-hour commute throughout much of South Florida. Heavy rain also caused delays at local airports and forced several police departments to cancel National Night Out Against Crime events scheduled for Tuesday evening.
In South Beach, where the city and state have upgraded drainage pipes and pumps in recent years, the infrastructure was overwhelmed.
Most pumps — designed to collect and push water out into Biscayne Bay — were on and working Tuesday afternoon, but the intensity of the rain dropped enough water to outpace the equipment, according to city spokeswoman Tonya Daniels.
While sunny-day flooding during seasonal high tides no longer inundates streets like Alton Road and West Avenue, Emily’s rainfall was about two times greater than what the system is designed to handle.
“We have accumulated over four inches at City Hall and rain is not stopping yet,” Daniels said about 4 p.m.
The Beach is urging residents to report flooding by calling 305-673-7625, and police are urging people to turn around if they see puddles or flooded roads.
According to FPL, around 900 customers on Miami Beach were without power late Tuesday afternoon.
Navarrete, 50, said her building lost electricity so she had to take the stairs.
Not that she could have used the elevator, anyway. “We have water inside the elevators, so it locked up,” she said.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Navarrete posted a video to Facebook chronicling the manholes spewing water. On her drive to Miami Beach City Hall, she said she saw several manholes bursting with water.
“They looked like a big fountain,” she said. “I’ve never seen that before.”
Monica Karl, another Beach resident, took videos of her flooded garage on Collins Avenue. She said it was flooded most of the day Tuesday, and that the water was up to her calf.
“My car is parked on the top, so I’m lucky,” Karl, 33 said. “The people parked on the bottom won’t be able to get out.”
Karl and her husband said they’ve been putting towels by their door to stop water from seeping through.
Karl’s father, Mickey Minagorri, lives in Normandy Shores in North Beach.
Minagorri, 62, said his side of the island has been “very blessed” with a new sewer system and drainage system that helps with the flooding.
“We’ve been exempt from what others may be going through,” said Minagorri, the former president of the Normandy Shores Homeowners Association.
Farther down the beach, chaos ensued.
A Papa John’s Pizza delivery truck got stuck in several inches of water on 15th Street and Meridian Avenue. And on Alton Road, water poured inside the front door of Macchialina restaurant
Sydney Brown, a 12-year-old from Bal Harbour, said she and her family were unable to make it home from the doctor because of the flooded streets. There was about three feet of water on Lakeview Drive, so she and her parents drove to a family’s apartment on Collins Avenue.
“We just didn’t want to take any chances,” Brown said.
Miami Herald staff writer Joey Flechas contributed to this report.