A Delta baggage train drives on the closed runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday, April 14, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The airport was able to open one of two runways after heavy rain flooded the runways. South Florida has begun draining streets and otherwise cleaning up after an unprecedented storm that dumped upward of 2 feet of rain in a matter of hours.(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Fort Lauderdale residents scramble to recover from flash flood


Some in Fort Lauderdale were forced to walk A1A/East Las Olas Boulevard last weekend with their belongings in tow after a flash flood forced residents to abandon their cars and seek shelter.

Alina Mihaila, a single mom with four cats, said her home submerged under water.
“[There is] no help from nowhere. Not from city, not from the government. I feel like nobody cares,” Mihaila said.  With no belongings, she said she will have to start over.

Mihaila spent three days trapped in her house. She received food from the Red Cross, but she did not get water.

“Sitting here by the window, half in cold water and telling the world my little situation story,” Mihaila said. “I appreciate every single dollar. It will help me to recover.”

The flood damaged parts of southern Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines and Hollywood. Between 14 and 20 inches of rain had drenched the greater Fort Lauderdale metro area.

Mihilia started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover the costs of the flood damages.

According to CNN, Mayor Josh Levy said this flood was the most severe one he had ever seen.

Joseph Rivera, a University of Florida Student, said getting a phone call from his partner and mother saying his home had been flooded sent him into shock.

“If you lost precious items that can’t be replaced, like my grandmother’s watch, remember what it was about those items that brought you comfort,” Rivera said. “For me, it was the memories the item held. Those memories will never be lost in a flood!”

Rivera said this should be a wake-up call.

“This is real, this is happening, and it’s happening because of climate change. If you live in Florida, be aware of areas prone to flooding and take the necessary precautions to ensure you can protect yourself and important items as much as possible. I never thought Fort Lauderdale would flood, but here we are,” Rivera said.

According to the Sun Sentinel, Westway Towing responded to over 500 calls and had to shut down the Fort Lauderdale facility because they were at capacity.

Brett Marks said there were numerous flood warnings, but he disregarded them, thinking it was just rain. How bad could it be?

“We’ve had rain down here before. Lots of it, but there’s never been flooding like this.” Marks said. “We received all types of flood warnings, both by phone, text messages from local government, emails from my work, and then on TV.”

Price gouging during the State of Emergency is unlawful, and Marks said this was one of the most significant concerns people faced when it came down to towing their car to dry land.

“They were charging people $1,000 to $2,000 to tow their cars. That would normally cost like a hundred dollars.” Marks said. “My friend was driving a brand new car that he bought a $250,000 car. It’s called a Bentley. He had to abandon it in the water because the water made his car inoperable when he was driving.”

According to NBC News, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was closed due to the floods and housed people who could not leave. A video broadcasted by NBC Miami showed flooding in the airport parking garage.

The flood caused a limited gas supply and affected the Florida Keys and Homestead people. Most of the lack of gas is from people panic buying and the trucks not being able to drive through the flood.

Ralph Liotta said he saw someone bring eight gas cans with him, trying to get as much gas as possible.

“Dude, it’s not a hurricane. There’ll be more later, relax.”

Liotta said people should start thinking about preparing for the hurricane season, which starts June 1. It will come creeping up very soon. He said not to wait until the last minute. Get your batteries, flashlights, everything and keep your car gassed.

“[This] a natural disaster. You couldn’t see it. You just really have to be prepared, and this should be a wake-up call to everybody for hurricane preparedness,” Liotta said. “A lot of people who just moved here from up north who’ve never experienced hurricanes, and they panicked when they saw that rain.”

Families separated due to the flooding chaos and could not go home for two days.

Sasha Mushiev experienced this in her own family and said it was the worst experience ever.

“We had to walk to try and find a road that had low water, so their cars could make it. But we didn’t find one until almost two days.”

Not only was Mushiev separated from her family, but her dad lost his car due to the water entering inside. He was forced to wait in his drenched car until Mushiev could pick him up. His only worry was to protect his valuables, important documents and computer.

According to Risk Factor, a website that helps people find their property’s risk of flooding, said 2,365,064 properties in Florida have more significant than a 26% chance of being severely affected by flooding over the next 30 years. This represents 36% of all properties in Florida.

About Denisa Fluturas

Denisa is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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