Flood victims wait for aid in Broward: ‘I wasn’t planning on starting over’

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Leopoldo “Pepe” Labrador said in Spanish that he feels like he has been abandoned. He was fixing a bedroom so he and his wife have a place to live with access to a bathroom and a washer and dryer.

Labrador, 76, is not alone. Jack Grimm’s house was also among the properties damaged during the recent flooding in Broward County that meteorologists described as historic.

Grimm, 71, a military veteran, said he was forced to climb on the top of his kitchen counter to watch his home in Fort Lauderdale’s Edgewood neighborhood flood.

“At my age, I wasn’t planning on starting over,” Grimm said.

Neither were Labrador or John Forman. They are among the Edgewood residents who said Monday that they have yet to receive any help from the city, state, or federal governments after the April 12-14 deluge.

“What happened back here is really bad and people really need the help,” Grimm said.

Hundreds were homeless after what The National Weather Service described as a “1-in-1,000-year” severe weather event. Forman helped people who were trapped. He also saw the suffering after the storm when families realized that they had lost everything they owned overnight.

“There is a guy who committed suicide not too long ago,” Forman said. “I think it’s just like people are overwhelmed.”

NWS meteorologists in Miami reported there were more than 25 inches of rain. Grimm said the stains on his wall show there were over 30 inches of water in his Edgewood home. He had been living there with his wife and his mother-in-law when the storm hit.

For now, Grimm said he is having to pay about $3,000 out of pocket at an extended-stay hotel since his home isn’t safe yet. He and others have been cutting out drywall to allow the moisture to escape and prevent mold.

Despite their despair, Labrador, Forman, and Grimm said that they are pushing forward with hope.

“When you’re all the way down, you can always go up,” Grimm said.

On April 17, the Florida Division of Emergency Management asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to participate in the damage assessment.

The individual assistance assessment was from April 19-22. The state had yet to request federal aid on Monday, but when it happens, FEMA will have to review the request first.

Click here for more information on resources for affected residents in Broward County.

About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.