Downpour soaks South Florida

BY P.J. HELLER | Miami, FL | October 4, 2000


South Florida residents slogged through the morning commute Wednesday while students had the day off after more than 15

inches of rain soaked the area.

Hardest hit in Tuesday's downpour was the Miami-Dade County area. Homes were flooded, some streets were impassable and

thousands of residents were without power. Flooding was reported in more than 20 areas of Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas urged residents to stay home Wednesday. Public and private schools in the Miami-Dade area were

closed Wednesday, giving more than 360,000 students a day off. Florida Atlantic University, Barry University and Florida Memorial

College also cancelled classes.

"We recommend that people play it safe and stay home, at least through the course of this morning," Penelas said. "The bottom line

is that these are not good conditions for the traveling public."

The National Weather Service recorded 15.30 inches of rain at Miami International Airport in a 36-hour period that ended at 8 a.m.

Wednesday. At least one tornado was reported; a twister in Hialeah damaged the roof of a fire station and some nearby cars. No

injuries were reported.

A flood watch was issued until 8 p.m. in Miami-Dade and to the north in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Broward County

received more than 8 inches of rain and more showers were predicted. Palm Beach County reported 3 to 4 inches of rain.

Three shelters were opened, including one at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Hallandale. Nineteen people stayed there overnight. In

Miami-Dade, two shelters were opened, one in Sweetwater, the other at the Carol City High School.

At least one faith-based organization was gearing up to respond. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) said it was

sending in supplies from a warehouse in Florida to assist in recovery efforts. Volunteers were also en route to offer assistance,

officials said.

Florida Power & Light Co. said as many as 65,000 customers were without power at one point. That number was down to 27,000 by

Wednesday morning but officials said it could be several days before power was restored to all customers.

"We are continuing to be hampered in the heavily flooded areas," said FPL spokesman Bill Swank. "Until the waters recede, we can't

safely make repairs.''

The storm began over Cuba and picked up moisture as it moved across the Florida Straits on Tuesday. Forecasters compared it to

Hurricane Irene, which last October dumped 18 inches of rain on South Florida, causing millions of dollars in flood damages.

While South Florida was soaked, parts of central and northern Florida remained in the throes of a drought.


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