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A tropical disturbance that brought a rare flash flood emergency to much of South Florida delayed flights at two of the state’s largest airports and left vehicles waterlogged and stalled in some of the region’s lowest-lying streets. 

On the island, Key Biscayne Fire Chief Eric Lang said floodwaters peaked around 7 p.m. Wednesday, following two to three inches of rain. 

“The floodwaters subsided quickly — and it was reported that the storm drains were working effectively,” Lang said. 

He said six cars, including Mercedes and BMW models, were submerged in floodwaters Thursday morning but no one had called for assistance.

A property on Island Drive had a collapsed seawall, he added, but there was no reported power outage. While heavy storms affected most of South Florida, Lang said, “We got pretty lucky not to get any rain falls yesterday — a lot of bad weather happened to the north of us.”

However, he is still keeping an eye out for severe weather because estimates indicate that Key Biscayne will be hit by a line of storms tonight, bringing with it up to 2 to 3 inches of rain.

Lang advised people to take precautions to keep safe, pay attention to the National Weather Service — especially advisories for flash and floods — and refrain from driving through flooded areas. 

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On the social site Nextdoor, former mayor of Key Biscayne Mayra Lindsay praised the department of public works in Key Biscayne for modernizing and putting into action a rigorous maintenance plan for the catch basins. 

“What an improvement in drainage. Great job and thank you! Great impactful, cost effective approach! Keep it up! Maintenance matters most! We can handle a 100 year rain event!” she wrote in her post.

The disorganized storm system was pushing across Florida from the Gulf of Mexico at roughly the same time as the early June start of hurricane season, which this year is forecast to be among the most active in recent memory amid concerns that climate change is increasing storm intensity.

Wednesday night, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced a state of emergency, stating that this would facilitate the handling of severe weather-related circumstances.

As more rain was predicted for the afternoon on Thursday, Levine Cava declared at midday that the County’s Emergency Operations Center had been alerted to a Level 2 partial activation.  

To better assist and lessen the effects in the most susceptible areas now experiencing flooding, particularly in the northeast of the County, the Department of Emergency Management for the County will be able to coordinate vital resources through the partial activation, Levine Cava said. 

“As we prepare for additional rain this afternoon, I’m doing everything in my power to make sure  we have all the resources available and ready to deploy immediately,” Levine Cava said. “The impacts of the flooding have been localized in the most vulnerable areas and we want to make sure we can protect our residents in need.”

In Miami, about 6 inches of rain fell Tuesday and 7 inches fell in Miami Beach, according to the National Weather Service. Hollywood got about 5 inches.

More rain was forecast for the rest of the week, leading the weather service office in Miami to extend a flash flood watch through Thursday. Some places could see another 6 inches of rain.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates there is a 85% chance that the Atlantic hurricane season will be above average, predicting between 17 and 25 named storms in the coming months including up to 13 hurricanes and four major hurricanes. An average season has 14 named storms.

BIILY JEAN LOUIS is the senior editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. A native of Port Au Prince, Haiti, Jean Louis  has worked for Bloomberg and the Baltimore Sun. He is a corps member of Report for America

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