South Floridians look for answers after streets flood

Parts of Lauderhill, Davie, Tamarac, Doral underwater days after Isaac

By Ben Kennedy - Reporter , Jacey Birch - Anchor/Animal Advocate

LAUDERHILL, Fla. - Lauderhill residents were still wading through neighborhood roads that looked more like rivers after Tropical Storm Isaac dumped several inches of rain in the area.

Some wore rain boots while others got inventive with garbage bags and only SUVs managed to maneuver through the soaked streets on Tuesday.

PHOTOS: Isaac in South Florida Vol. 1 | Vol. 2 | Vol. 3 | Vol. 4 | Vol. 5 |

Lauderhill isn't alone. The grass in Tamarac looked more like a swamp while mobile homes were still sitting in water in Davie.  

"It's terrible and I am so scared of water," said Gloriean Gordon, who lives in Lauderhill.  

Gordon's fear took over as she looked around her neighborhood to see it was still under water two days after Isaac's downpours.

"I'm walking to my house because it's not safe to drive," said Gordon.

Roads turned into rivers and were receding slowly, leading residents to question why their homes were soaked after the tropical storm.

"We don't know precisely what happened," said Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan.

The City of Lauderhill recently spent $6 million redesigning its drainage system to pump out local canals into a main canal, known as the C-13, which flushes all the way out to the ocean. South Florida Water Management District started drawing down the C-13 by more than a foot last Tuesday before the storm's approached. 

The SFWMD has to walk a fine line: draw down too much water and receive no rain -- and there will be a problem, or draw down too little and get too much rain -- and there will be a different problem. South Florida experienced the latter.

"Every system has a limit or capacity. If the water comes in faster than the system can handle, the system is still going to work, it's just not going to take it out faster than it's coming in," said Kaplan.

With rain falling at a rate of eight to 12 inches in less than 24 hours, systems failed not only in Lauderhill, but also in Tamarac, Davie, Doral, especially in low-lying areas that are just a few feet above sea level.  

"No matter how many structures you put in, in some of these low streets, you're still going to have some flooding," said Michael Crowley, district manager for Central Broward Water Control. "They're still going to rise up with the amount of rain we had and as fast as the rain came."  

Crowley saw drainage problems in Davie and Southwest Ranches affecting farmland and other areas near the canals.

City leaders were investigating how to better handle the heavy rain for the next storm.

"It's a common problem and we collectively have to figure out what's wrong and fix it," said Kaplan.

VIDEO: Lauderhill canal overflows

A canal in the middle of a neighborhood in Lauderhill overflowed after Tropical Storm Isaac.

"My wife was actually shaken. She was scared," said Joe McGrath, who lives next to the flooded canal.

Homeowners weren't happy. Some ditched their cars and hit the road on foot.

"I'm walking to my house because it's not safe to drive," said Gordon.

While others got a bit creative, Local 10 spotted a man who strapped on garbage bags to make it to work.

"We're working with South Florida Water Management again to find out what the situation was. The water appeared to come from the canals. It's not just in Lauderhill but throughout the region," said Lauderhill Police Dept. Capt. Rick Rocco.

As the water receded, residents prepared to clean up and looked to city leaders to help prevent something like this from happening again.

"Why did this have to happen? what happened to the draining system?" asked Gordon.

"Let's hope they make it right. Is it starting to go down? Yes, sir, it is, but I wish they would prepare better," said Joe McGrath.

VIDEO: Flooding causes problems in Davie

Flooding is also causing problems in Davie.

Local 10's Terrell Forney reported that excess rain has nowhere to go because the ground was so saturated Tuesday. Local 10 cameras caught a woman and a young girl riding a horse through the flooded street.

The water was about 8 inches deep in some areas.

A few homes had been flooded. Howard Hurst said water infiltrated his basement, ruining some of his belongings.

"Some things I had underneath the house, I put them up, but it got bad this time," said Hurst. "It got, it got bad enough to where it soaked some of the stuff that's down there. So I lost some stuff, I'll call the insurance company."

"If this is all I have to put up with on a regular basis, it's not too bad," said Chuck Webber.

Copyright 2012 by Post Newsweek. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.