‘Waves of water’ inundate Little Havana as streets, businesses flood

Expert says it doesn’t take much rain to rapidly flood low-lying areas these days

MIAMI – Flooding occurred in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood on Tuesday morning after a severe thunderstorm passed through.

According to the Local 10 Weather Authority team, the low-lying area often experiences floods.

They said there were two major reasons for the flooding: a higher than normal high tide and quick, heavy rainfall. Together, these factors didn’t allow the water to drain as easily.

Some businesses in the area had approximately six inches of water inside.

“When the cars would pass, we would get waves of water,” an employee of the Guerrero Supermarket said in Spanish.

While Local 10 News arrived after the water had receded, workers at businesses in the area said that flooding is a constant issue.

Jayantha Obeysekera, the director of Florida International University’s Sea Level Solutions Center, said in an age of climate change, it doesn’t take much rain to rapidly flood low-lying areas.

“The bigger problem is some of these coastal areas, the ground water level, the water level below the ground, because of rising sea levels, have been creeping up over the long run, particularly since 2010, 2015, due to rising sea levels off the coast,” Obeysekera said. “The ground water level, or water table, is already higher, so it doesn’t take much rain to saturate the ground, which means more frequent flooding.”

Obeysekera added: “At the community level, we need to make sure that the drainage systems function very well. Storm drains and others need to be clear so that kind of local drainage systems needs to be ready prior to wet system or storm events like this.”

Local 10 News contacted city officials to inquire about what flood mitigation efforts, if any, are planned for the area.

City spokesperson Kenia Fallat said Tuesday afternoon that the storm was “a short duration and high intensity rainfall event.”

“The area of Riverside Park is served by the Lawrence Pump Station. This is an area with significant tree canopy and is debris prone, which causes the system to temporarily clog and restricts the water flow in the conveyance system and the pump station,” Fallat said in an email to Local 10 News. “The plan of action for the area includes continued frequent cleaning of the system itself and street sweeping.”

She said the city also plans for the “installation of curb inlet screens throughout the contributing system is proposed to minimize debris entering the stormwater system and continuous pump station maintenance to ensure proper operation.”

“There are two stormwater master plan priority projects in the area, namely the East Little Havana Flood Improvements and the Jose Marti Park (Seawall), Shoreline and Flood Improvements Projects,” Fallat said.

About the Authors:

Annaliese Garcia joined Local 10 News in January 2020. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism. She began her career at Univision. Before arriving at Local 10, she was with NBC2 (WBBH-TV) covering Southwest Florida. She's glad to be back in Miami!

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."