Away from the election for a moment, beaches and coronavirus testing sites were closed, public transportation shut down and some evacuations in place early today after Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in the Florida Keys, bringing heavy rains to already flooded city streets
Eta hit land late Sunday on Lower Matecumbe Key, Florida. The system’s slow speed and heavy rains posed an enormous threat to South Florida, an area already drenched from more than 14 inches (350 millimeters) of rain last month. Eta could dump an additional 6 to 12in (150-300mm), forecasters said.
“In some areas, the water isn’t pumping out as fast as it’s coming in,” warned Miami Dade commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz.
Associated Press report that Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he was in frequent contact with county water officials about the struggle to drain the flooded waters, which has stalled vehicles, whitewashed some intersections and even crept into some homes.
Flash flood warnings are in place in some areas.
On Sunday night, authorities in Lauderhill, Florida, responded to a report of a car that had driven into a canal. Photos taken by fire units on the scene about 30 miles (48km) north of Miami showed rescuers searching high waters near a parking lot.
Firefighters pulled one person from a car and took the patient to a hospital in critical condition, according to a statement from Lauderhill Fire.
The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said a tropical storm warning was in place for the Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay.
Eta was expected to move out into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and intensify into a hurricane late Monday or Tuesday.
In the Florida Keys, the mayor ordered mandatory evacuations for mobile home parks, campgrounds and RV parks and those in low-lying areas.
Several schools districts closed, saying the roads were already too flooded and the winds could be too gusty for buses to transport students. Several shelters also opened in Miami and the Florida Keys.
“Please take this storm seriously,” urged Palm Beach County emergency management director Bill Johnson. “Please don’t drive through flooded roadways.”