Tropical Storm Eta lashing South Florida

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Fort Lauderdale, Florida — Tropical Storm Eta was lashing South Florida and the Florida Keys early Monday with heavy rains, strong winds and dangerous storm surge, the National Hurricane Center said. Many areas were flooded, beaches and coronavirus testing sites were closed, public transportation was shut down and some evacuations were in place.

Eta was hitting Florida after leaving scores dead and over 100 missing in Mexico and Central America.

The system’s slow speed and heavy rains posed an enormous threat to South Florida, an area already drenched from more than 14 inches of rain last month. Eta could dump 6 to 12 inches in some parts of southern and central Florida and up to a foot-and-a-half in some places, forecasters said.

“In some areas, the water isn’t pumping out as fast as it’s coming in,” warned Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he was in frequent contact with county water officials about the struggle to drain the water, which has stalled vehicles, whitewashed some intersections and even crept into some homes.

The storm also left some 27,000 homes and businesses in the dark early Monday in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, CBS Miami reports, citing Florida Power & Light.

Eta had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph early Monday and was centered about 25 miles northwest of Marathon, Florida, and 40 miles northeast of Key West. It was moving west-northwest at 14 mph.

On the forecast track, Eta was expected to move out into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and intensify into a hurricane late Monday or Tuesday. It made landfall late Sunday over Lower Matecumbe Key.

On Sunday night, authorities in Lauderhill, Florida, responded to a report of a car that had driven into a canal. Photos taken by fire units on the scene about 30 miles north of Miami showed rescuers searching high waters near a parking lot.

Firefighters pulled a man from the car and took him to a hospital in critical condition, according to a statement from Lauderhill Fire. Responders were continuing to search for others.

Assistant Lauderhill Fire Chief Jeff Levy told CBS Miami, “A lot of firefighters were able to get into the vehicle, get the victim out, pull him out, begin CPR and get him transported to Broward General Hospital where he has regained his pulse.”

The hurricane center, in Miami, posted hurricane and storm surge warnings for the Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay.

In the Keys, officials ordered evacuations for mobile home parks, campgrounds and RV parks and those in low-lying areas. Several schools districts closed, saying roads were already too flooded and the winds could be too gusty for buses to transport students. Several shelters opened in Miami and the Keys.

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





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