Gov. DeSantis outlines S. Florida flood response, predicts lighter showers ahead of Panthers win

DeSantis tony
‘We definitely have to make sure by Saturday night that the streets are good so everyone can celebrate the Florida Panthers winning the Stanley Cup.’

Florida agencies are responding capably and effectively to heavy rainfall and flooding that swept South Florida this week, and the worst appears to have passed — just in time for festivities around the Florida Panthers’ imminent Stanley Cup win, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

At a Friday news conference in Hollywood, DeSantis gave an overview of state efforts to drain the deluge in the area and get help to those who need it.

Conditions are already better, he said, and will continue on that track throughout the weekend as upward of 100 pumps are being used to remove standing water that partially submerged many vehicles and homes.

“Obviously, the water has receded a lot compared to where it was in the worst of it. You still have some of the RV and mobile home parks that have a lot of standing water,” he said.

“We had a very, very dry spell (before this). You looked at the Everglades. (It) was really parched. There has not been much (rainfall). So, the area held a lot of it, but there was just so much inundation in such a short period of time that you ended up having this.”

DeSantis said a briefing he had earlier suggested that there would be more rainfall on Friday. Still, it will be more akin to the “typical, South Florida afternoon-type shower” to which locals are accustomed.

“I told everybody we definitely have to make sure by Saturday night that the streets are good so everyone can celebrate the Florida Panthers winning the Stanley Cup,” he said, laughing and to applause.

“They said, ‘Well, we’re going to have one more game.’ I was like, ‘No, I don’t think we need more games in South Florida. I think we’re good. I think we’ll take, well, if we can get 4-0, we’ll take 4-0. But you know, these things are never over ’til it’s over.”

He continued, “I (made) a bet with the Premier of Alberta. So, if you see Canadian whiskey circling around the state Capitol next week, you’ll know where it came from.”

Kevin Guthrie, Director of the Florida Department of Emergency Management (DEM), said the ongoing recovery efforts by state and local personnel have led to results “night and day” better than when thunderstorms and floodwaters pummeled Fort Lauderdale in April last year.

He warned residents to remain vigilant, use sound judgment in still-flooded areas and document any damage for which they plan to recoup losses.

“If your home has experienced significant flood damage, do not enter the building. If it is still flooded … the first thing you should do is take pictures of that flood inundation for your homeowner’s insurance. Report any broken utilities to the proper authorities, and do not handle any type of live wires or other wires,” he said.

“Throw out any food that’s been contaminated (and) avoid any areas that are subject to flooding. You only had to drive through about six inches of water to have a problem with your vehicle. Don’t drive around barricades. Pay attention to all of the directions that local … and state law enforcement are giving … Some of that water may very well be contaminated, so please do not walk through it. Do not allow your children to play in it.”

An aerial shot of flooding in Northeast Miami-Dade County. Image via AP.

At 8 a.m. Friday, the State Emergency Operations Center fully activated the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) to respond to flooding and heavy rain effects throughout South Florida. The downpours hit Tuesday and continued into Wednesday, leaving vehicles waterlogged and stalled in some of the region’s lowest-lying streets.

On Thursday, travelers tried to salvage their plans as residents cleared debris before the next round of rain. DeSantis also issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade and Sarasota counties. DEM Director Kevin Guthrie has also deployed to South Florida to coordinate state resource management.

“Looked like the beginning of a zombie movie,” said Ted Rico, a tow-truck driver who spent much of Wednesday night and Thursday morning helping to clear the streets of stalled vehicles. “There’s cars littered everywhere, on top of sidewalks, in the median, in the middle of the street, no lights on. Just craziness, you know. Abandoned cars everywhere.”

Bill Carlisle, a Navy petty officer first class, spent his morning trying to catch a flight back to Norfolk, Virginia. He arrived at Miami International Airport at about 6:30 a.m., but 90 minutes later, he was still in line and realized he couldn’t get his bags checked and through security in time to catch his flight.

“It was a zoo,” said Carlisle, a public affairs specialist. He was speaking for himself, not the Navy. “Nothing against the (airport) employees; there is only so much they can do.”

Invest 90L, the monsoon name the National Hurricane Center in Miami gave it, is expected to move offshore Friday. Tropical moisture is continuing to bring scattered, heavy rainfall and isolated thunderstorms to South Florida, DEM said. A flood watch will remain in effect across South Florida and the Keys.

Recovery efforts

DEM has staged over 20 pumps and hoses in Punta Gorda to remove floodwaters. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) prepared for the storm by sweeping roadways, clearing drainage openings and staging equipment for response. Crews mobilized pumps to clear flooding on impacted lanes of I-95, Pembroke Road, U.S. 1 and State Road A1A.

Pumps were also deployed to address minor flooding in the Kinney Tunnel. DEM said the tunnel is now clear and fully operational.

As of Friday morning, the State Highway System is open, including portions of I-95 in Southeast Florida that were closed to flooding Thursday. Hallandale Beach Boulevard between U.S. 1 and the A1A has some lanes underwater and stalled vehicles. But the road is passable, DEM said.

Stirling Road at Southwest 11th Avenue has turning lanes with standing water.

All seaports are open and operational.

The following airports are open:

— Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International. Multiple taxiways are closed for flooding, and more than 50 commercial flights have been delayed or canceled.

— Key West International. Fewer than five commercial flight delays and cancellations have been reported.

— Miami International. More than 50 commercial flights have been delayed or canceled.

— Orlando International. Fewer than five commercial flights have been delayed or canceled.

— Palm Beach International. Runway 04/22 has been closed. Two commercial flight delays have been reported.

— Sarasota/Bradenton International. Fewer than five commercial flights have been delayed or canceled.

Mike Viasel and his dog, Humi, in Hollywood. Image via AP/Miami Herald.

Intercounty railway Brightline has temporarily suspended operations from its Aventura and Miami stations.

Community shuttles in Hallandale Beach and Dania Beach, Davie and Lauderdale Lakes are suspended. Broward County Transit is detouring one route. LauderGo Micro Mover service is also suspended.

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is actively patrolling affected areas, has removed abandoned vehicles along I-95 and has staffed several road closures. FHP has also deployed fixed-wing aircraft and drone units to support and coordinate with FDOT recovery efforts.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is coordinating with Florida’s Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network and other agencies to dispatch generators, fuel and pump trucks that may be needed to help drinking water and wastewater facilities in impacted areas.

Fourteen Florida State Guard service members have been deployed from the Maritime Response Battalion to support the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is working to increase accessibility and provide communities with aid.

Another 20 Maritime Response Squadron and Crisis Response Battalion personnel have joined U.S. Coast Guard personnel and support crews to operate four shallow-water vessels and two amphibious rescue vehicles.

More are on standby.

The South Florida Water Management District also works with local governments in Miami-Dade and Broward to support flood control efforts using the regional canal system.

The Agency for Health Care Administration has activated its Emergency Patient Look-Up System (E-PLUS) and notified all users in affected counties by email. The agency has also opened an event in the Health Facility Reporting System for Hillsborough, Polk, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, Manatee, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Martin, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte, Glades, Lee, Hendry, Collier, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.


Material from The Associated Press was used in this report, republished with permission.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • Andrew Finn

    June 15, 2024 at 9:29 pm

    In regard to all this massive flooding in Florida, all the local governments will immediately respond by issuing more building permits.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704