Miami Beach residents, business owners deal with aftermath of heavy flooding

Woman says rushing water spilled into stuck elevator inside apartment building

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The cleanup continued Wednesday morning on Miami Beach after heavy downpours Tuesday night left high water on the roads and people stranded.

Most of the physical work when it comes to cleaning up has been handled and the streets are cleared, thanks to restoration workers.

But some storm drains were left clogged after the heavy rain and, emotionally, many residents are still dealing with the mess.

"I've never seen this before," Valerie Navarrete said. "I've never seen this before. It was brutal -- really brutal and, actually, scary."

Residents like Navarrete, who have lived on the beach for years, have dealt with severe flooding before, but nothing as severe as this week.

In the lobby of her building off Lincoln Road, the water reached about 4 feet.

Another woman who lives in the building took the elevator from the fourth to the first floor, and ended up trapped as water rushed in.

She said firefighters rescued her.

"I could have been dead if I didn't have a phone, because nobody heard (me)," Rosemarie Tarricone said. "I was banging as much as I can (and said), 'Help me. I’m drowning.'"

The water has receded, but many beach residents are now dealing with stalled out, damaged vehicles.

"There's still three cars and four motorcycles that didn't make it out," another resident, Kyan Bravo, said. "Their owners either weren't here or didn't have their keys available."

During the chaos, many people who live in the apartment building rushed to move their cars to higher ground, or ditched their vehicles that were stuck.

The city of Miami Beach put out a warning, saying towing of illegally parked cars would resume at noon Wednesday.

Some business owners were also upset after Tuesday's storms, saying the city's pumps failed to keep their businesses dry.

"The pumps were struggling to keep up, and then on top of that, you had the 45 minute power interruption that hit a couple of our pump stations, and basically made a bad situation worse," assistant city manager Eric Carpenter said. 

Carpenter said a power outage knocked some of the pumps offline and they didn't have generators in place to keep them going.

Business owners, like Tony Gallo, of Sardinia Enoteca, who had plenty of flooding on Tuesday, said permanent generators should already be in the city.

"It is weird, because common sense tells me, South Florida, a power outage -- it happens many times, so it's pretty common. What if a hurricane comes? What are we going to do?" he said. 

The city said it's in the process of getting permanent generators.

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