Tropical Storm Eta floods already drenched Florida cities

Tropical_Weather_66578 Palm trees sway in the wind in front of historic Art Deco hotels, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, on Miami Beach, Florida's famed South Beach. A strengthening Tropical Storm Eta cut across Cuba on Sunday, and forecasters say it's likely to be a hurricane before hitting the Florida Keys Sunday night or Monday.
Tropical_Weather_99674 A pedestrian walks past a business with sandbags at the ready in case of flooding, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, on Miami Beach, Florida's famed South Beach. A strengthening Tropical Storm Eta cut across Cuba on Sunday, and forecasters say it's likely to be a hurricane before hitting the Florida Keys Sunday night or Monday.
Guatemala_Tropical_Weather_88527 Police officers stand guard at the area where a plane that crashed in Guatemala City, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. A plane crashed after taking off from Guatemala City's La Aurora Airport with humanitarian aid to the areas affected by the ETA storm. At least one person died in the accident, firefighters reported.
Tropical_Weather_69343 Cars move along a flooded road on Oakland Park, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. A strengthening Tropical Storm Eta sliced across Cuba on Sunday and was aimed at the southern tip of Florida, where officials braced for a storm that could hit at hurricane force after leaving scores of dead and over 100 missing in Mexico and Central America.
Tropical_Weather_63968 Residents walk a flooded street to reach their homes, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Tropical Storm Eta caused severe flooding in South Florida in areas already saturated from previous downpours.
Tropical_Weather_20228 A parking lot at Hard Rock Stadium, the site of one of the major COVID-19 testing sites in the state, is flooded in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The site suffered major damage due to extensive rain dumped by the storm, and will remain closed until Wednesday or Thursday.
Tropical_Weather_25764 Two dogs look out from a flooded field in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in Davie, Fla. A deluge of rain from Tropical Storm Eta caused flooding Monday across South Florida's most densely populated urban areas, stranding cars, flooding businesses, and swamping entire neighborhoods with fast-rising water that had no place to drain.
Tropical_Weather_16793 Rance Ford watches a passing vehicle on his flooded street in Melrose Manors in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Tropical Storm Eta dumped rain as it passed over South Florida streets flooded.
Tropical_Weather_93539 The parking lot of the Sawp Shop Flea Market in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is seen flooded, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Eta caused dangerous flooding Monday across Florida's most densely populated urban areas, stranding cars and swamping entire neighborhoods with fast-rising water that had no place to drain.
Tropical_Weather_12781 A man sits in the bed of a truck as flooding is seen in the Melrose Manors neighborhood west of downtown Fort Lauderdale on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Tropical Storm Eta brought heavy rain and high winds to South Florida as it made landfall in the Florida Keys Sunday.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_42646 Lemay Acosta pulls his daughter Layla, 2, and dog Buster on a boat as they tour his flooded neighborhood in Plantation, Fla., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, a day after Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in the Florida Keys and flooded parts of South Florida.
Tropical_Weather_28531 Evan and Denise Knight try to keep dry along with their baby Zion, on a flooded street in Melrose Park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Eta caused dangerous flooding Monday across Florida's most densely populated urban areas, stranding cars and swamping entire neighborhoods with fast-rising water that had no place to drain.
Tropical_Weather_84302 This Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 satellite image made available by NOAA shows Tropical Storm Eta in the Gulf of Mexico at 1:51 p.m. EST. At left is Texas and at bottom is Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.
Tropical_Weather_82427 A man walks his bike through a flooded street in the Melrose Place neighborhood at 38th Ave. just south of Broward Blvd. on Monday, Nov., 9, 2020. Tropical Storm Eta brought heavy rain and high winds to South Florida as it made landfall in the Florida Keys Sunday.
Tropical_Weather_81133 Lemay Acosta and his daughter Layla,2, take a boat ride in his flooded neighborhood in Plantation, Fla. a day after Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in the Florida Keys and flooded parts of South Florida, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. South Florida will experience the high winds, rain and chance of tornadoes into Monday.
Tropical_Weather_24804 A bicyclist rides through high water at a shopping center Monday Nov. 9, 2020 in Hollywood, Fla. Tropical Storm Eta brought heavy rain and high winds to South Florida as it made landfall in the Florida Keys Sunday.
Tropical_Weather_86812 People check out the beach during a downpour, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, on Miami Beach, Florida's famed South Beach. A strengthening Tropical Storm Eta cut across Cuba on Sunday, and forecasters say it's likely to be a hurricane before hitting the Florida Keys Sunday night or Monday.
Guatemala_Tropical_Weather_11260 A policeman stands guard at the area where a plane that crashed in Guatemala City, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. A plane crashed after taking off from Guatemala City's La Aurora Airport with humanitarian aid to the areas affected by the ETA storm. At least one person died in the accident, firefighters reported.
Tropical_Weather_00783 An advertising billboard lies on the ground after falling from high winds and rain from Tropical Storm Eta, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in Key Largo, Fla. The storm had top sustained winds of 65 mph Sunday night as it crossed over the Florida Keys.
Tropical_Weather_52198 Pedestrians on A1A and Las Olas wait to cross the street on Fort Lauderdale Beach, as rain bands from Tropical Storm Eta come ashore, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A strengthening Tropical Storm Eta sliced across Cuba and was aimed at the southern tip of Florida, where officials braced for storm that could hit at hurricane force after leaving scores of dead and over 100 missing in Mexico and Central America.
Tropical_Weather_38498 Tree limbs block a road after they broke and fell due to high winds and rain from Tropical Storm Eta, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in Key Largo, Fla. The storm had top sustained winds of 65 mph Sunday night as it crossed over the Florida Keys.
Guatemala_Tropical_Weather_64981 The propeller of a crashed aircraft is surrounded by electrical power cables in Guatemala City, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. A plane crashed after taking off from Guatemala City's La Aurora Airport with humanitarian aid to the areas affected by the ETA storm. At least one person died in the accident, firefighters reported.
Honduras_Tropical_Weather_08146 Mirian Najera is comforted upon learning about the death of her mother Maria Mejia, in Planeta, Honduras, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. When the brown waters of the Chamelecon river poured into San Pedro Sula's Planeta neighborhood before dawn Thursday, Najera fled her home in the dark with her two children and her mother. But while she held tight to her children, the current swept away her mother.
Tropical_Weather_Eta_47996 An U.S. flag damaged by high winds flies in Layton, Fla., in the Florida Keys, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Tropical Storm Eta had top sustained winds of 65 mph Sunday night as it crossed over the Florida Keys.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_65909 A man walks a flooded street in his neighborhood, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Tropical Storm Eta caused severe flooding in South Florida in areas already saturated from previous downpours.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_25764 Two dogs look out from a flooded field in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in Davie, Fla. A deluge of rain from Tropical Storm Eta caused flooding Monday across South Florida's most densely populated urban areas, stranding cars, flooding businesses, and swamping entire neighborhoods with fast-rising water that had no place to drain.
(1/26)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A deluge of rain from Tropical Storm Eta caused flooding Monday across South Florida’s most densely populated urban areas, stranding cars, flooding businesses, and swamping entire neighborhoods with fast-rising water that had no place to drain.

Elsewhere, forecasters announced that Subtropical Storm Theta, a record-breaking 29th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season, had formed far out in the northeast Atlantic by late Monday night. It posed no immediate threat to land.

Eta made landfall in the Florida Keys and posed a serious threat across South Florida, which was already drenched from more than 14 inches (35 centimeters) of rain last month.

“Never seen this, never, not this deep,” said Anthony Lyas, who has lived in his now-waterlogged Fort Lauderdale neighborhood since 1996. He described hearing water and debris slamming against his shuttered home overnight.

After striking Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane and killing nearly 70 people from Mexico to Panama, the storm moved into the Gulf of Mexico early Monday near where the Everglades meet the sea, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph).

“It was far worse than we could’ve ever imagined, and we were prepared,” said Arbie Walker, a 27-year-old student whose Fort Lauderdale apartment was filled with 5 or 6 inches (13 to 15 centimeters) of water.

“It took us 20 minutes to navigate out of our neighborhood due to the heavy flooding in our area,” Walker added. Floodwaters also submerged half of his sister’s car.

As much as 16 inches of rain damaged one of the state’s largest COVID-19 testing sites, at Miami-Dade County’s Hard Rock Stadium, officials said. Throughout the pandemic, it has been among the busiest places to get a coronavirus diagnosis. The site was expected to be closed until Wednesday or Thursday.

Eta hit land late Sunday as it blew over Lower Matecumbe, in the middle of the chain of small islands that form the Keys, but the heavily populated areas of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties bore the brunt of the fury.

It was the 28th named storm of a busy Atlantic hurricane season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. And late Monday, it was followed by the 29th — Theta.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Theta broke the record of 28 named storms in 2005. Theta had developed about 995 miles (1,600 kilometers) southwest of the Azores, bearing top sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) as that system moved eastward at 15 mph (24 kph).

Late Monday night, Eta was about 180 miles (285 kilometers) southwest of the Dry Tortugas, moving southwest at 9 mph (15 kph). Forecasters said the storm, which had slowed in recent hours, was expected to strengthen overnight as it meanders in the southeatern Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters said the system could intensify again into a minimal hurricane once it slowly moves up the southwest Gulf Coast. It is just far enough offshore to maintain its strength while dumping vast amounts of water across the lower third of the Florida peninsula. Rain and wind also were felt as far north as the Tampa Bay area.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis called it a 100-year rain event.

“Once the ground becomes saturated, there’s really no place for the water to go,” Trantalis said. “It’s not like a major hurricane. It’s more of a rain event, and we’re just doing our best to ensure that the people in our community are being protected.”

City officials dispatched some 24 tanker trucks with giant vacuums to soak up water from the past few weeks. Some older neighborhoods simply do not have any drainage. The city also passed out 6,000 sandbags to worried residents over the weekend, but water seeped into homes and stranded cars in parking lots and along roadways.

“There was just so much rain in such a short amount of time there was no where for it to go,” said Fort Lauderdale resident Morgan Shattuck, who took photos of flooding on her street that showed swiftly moving water near the top of vehicles’ wheels.

Randi Barry, 36, also woke up Monday to flooded streets outside her home in Fort Lauderdale, and joined her neighbors in helping people whose cars were stuck in high water.

“There are a lot of people with their doors open, getting furniture up to higher ground and trying to get water out of their homes,” Barry said.

A tractor-trailer was left dangling off the elevated Palmetto Expressway in Miami, the Florida Highway Patrol reported. The driver lost control on the wet, slick road and suffered minor injuries, CBS 4 in Miami reported.

“Please take this storm seriously,” urged Palm Beach County Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson. “Please don’t drive through flooded roadways.”

Firefighters had pulled a person from a car that had driven into a canal Sunday night in Lauderhill, north of Miami. The patient was hospitalized in critical condition, according to a statement from Lauderhill Fire.

In the Keys, the mayor ordered mandatory evacuations for mobile home and RV parks, campgrounds and other low-lying areas. School districts closed, saying the roads were already too flooded and the winds could be too gusty for buses to transport students. But the islands were spared any major damage, and officials expected shelters to close and schools to reopen by Tuesday.

Aside from a banyan tree that fell on a home and injured people inside, Key Largo was largely unscathed, Fire Chief Don Bock said.

Eta was not done yet with Cuba, just 90 miles (140 kilometers) south of Florida, where the storm continued to swell rivers and flood coastal zones. Some 25,000 people were evacuated with no reports of deaths, but rainfall continued, with total accumulations of up to 25 inches (63 centimeters) predicted. A tropical storm watch was in effect for parts of the island.

Nearly a week after Eta crashed ashore in Nicaragua, authorities from Panama to Guatemala have reported more than 100 dead and an even higher number of missing. Extensive flooding and landslides have affected hundreds of thousands of people in countries already struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic.

___

Associated Press writers Cody Jackson in Fort Lauderdale, Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, and Haleluya Hadero in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up