Kristie Laddeus — who is pregnant, has a small child and pets — is among the many Broward County residents who are waiting for help during the flood emergency.
The road to her home down West Dayton Circle in Fort Lauderdale’s Melrose Park neighborhood was still underwater amid days of torrential rain and the series of sporadic downpours on Thursday.
“We are inside of our home, me and my neighbors, we are flooded. We have water in our house. Called the city since this morning,” Laddeus said adding that there are seniors on her street who also need help.
All day, rescue crews worked on plucking pets from houses filled with water, and helping people who were trapped — some for a second night. Officials reported there were more than 100 calls for help and crews had rescued about 1,000 people.
WEATHER FORECAST: Flood warning in effect until 8 a.m., Friday
Evening Thursday showers covered streets again, so fire rescue personnel and police officers continued to use boats, buggies, and high-water vehicles to respond to hundreds of calls for help in flooded neighborhoods.
In some cases, gas stations turned into meeting points for deputies with evacuees and fire rescue personnel. The missions are dangerous, as canals, ponds, and lakes overflowed into roads and streets, and the environment under darkness was like an obstacle course.
There were two tornadoes amid the storms. Kristen Haughton-James, who is also pregnant and has a 4-year-old son, said she and her husband were terrified as the stormwater started to get into their home in Broward’s city of Oakland Park.
“We started seeing it rushing in through the doors, and under the floor, in our bedroom, and through the back door,” Haughton-James said. “We were trying to throw stuff on the floor to stop it.”
Jean Thielen, a father, said he was terrified when the water started to invade his first-floor apartment in Hallandale Beach. He said his father, who lives in the same building on the second floor, was able to help them, and almost everything his family owns got wet.
“It was like a horror movie,” Thielen said. “It was really difficult. I have my wife, and my kids.”
Some residents reported having up to three feet of water in their homes. Scott Emmerso, also a father, said his home was full of water and although he was able to evacuate his family before nightfall, he was concerned about the property loss because he didn’t have renter’s insurance.
“All my furniture is destroyed, all my bed frames, my child’s bed frames, mattresses, and my room, it kind of dips down quite a bit, and so that had the most water,” Emmerso said.
CLOSED FRIDAY: Broward public schools to remain closed
The water started to recede in some areas on Thursday night and early Friday morning in Hallandale Beach, but drivers who returned to check on their property said there weren’t enough truck drivers available to remove the abandoned cars that were blocking the streets.
The unexpected crisis prompted city and county officials to declare a state of emergency and request state and federal aid. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was already assisting local authorities with evacuations.
The National Weather Service canceled a flood watch for coastal areas of Miami-Dade and Broward late Thursday night and issued a flood warning for the Fort Lauderdale metro area to be in effect until 8 a.m., on Friday — since flooding remains even despite the heavy rain coming to an end.