FL flood affects thousands

BY P.J. HELLER | Miami, FL | October 4, 1998

Damage assessments show that Tuesday's flooding destroyed more than 1,044 homes and apartments in South Florida, with

1,154 homes sustaining heavy damage. When torrential rains inundated the area, some 93,000 homes were surrounded by


Assessment crews are still having difficulty reaching the worst-hit areas of Sweetwater, Hialeah, and parts of west Dade.

Four South Florida counties received presidential disaster declarations on Thursday, according to Ann Rowe from the Florida

Division of Emergency Management.

In Miami-Dade County, initial assessments indicate serious flooding in Homestead, Kendall, Hialeah, North Miami, Sweetwater,

Country Walk, and Florida City. The American Red Cross has opened two shelters, one at Sweetwater Elementary School and

one at the Carol City High School.

In Broward County, flood damage was reported in Pembrook Pines and Hallandale. The Red Cross opened a shelter in the First

Baptist Church in Hallandale.

The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church sent cleaning supplies from the conference's warehouse to the Florida

City United Methodist Church.

"There will be a need for volunteers in the coming weeks to do cleanup and rebuilding," said Tom Hazelwood, director of

disaster response for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

Homeowners in communities such as Sweetwater and Kendall in Miami-Dade County were likely to be underinsured for

flooding because they aren't in areas designated as a high risk for floods.

Florida Interfaiths Networking in Disaster (FIND) is responding to survivors, according to FIND Executive Director Jody Hill.

"An important first step is to do whatever we can to encourage those affected to register with FEMA (Federal Emergency

Management Agency) and to assist them with the SBA (Small Business Administration) paperwork," she said.

The Salvation Army is also responding to survivors, said Rowe. Church of the Brethren Disaster Child Care teams have been

put on alert should their services be needed.

More than 15 inches of rain soaked the area on Tuesday.

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.

Broward County received more than 8 inches of rain. Palm Beach County reported 3 to 4 inches of rain.

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

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