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Fed up with floods, Florida homeowner moves to higher ground

ELISSA NADWORNY, HOST:

This week saw devastating flash floods sweep across parts of South Florida. Fort Lauderdale was hit especially hard with more than 2 feet of rain falling in a 24 hour period. The historic flooding has pushed many residents out of their homes. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency this week, as did the city and Broward County. Gerard Albert III of member station WLRN reports from South Florida.

GERARD ALBERT III, BYLINE: Elijah Manley was working near downtown on Wednesday when he got a text from his mother. She warned him not to come home.

ELIJAH MANLEY: She said, the whole house is flooded. The whole neighborhood is flooded. There are people, like, climbing on their cars.

ALBERT: I reached him by phone Friday morning as he was still trying to make it home. Manley lives about 4 miles northwest of downtown Fort Lauderdale. The neighborhood is predominantly Black and floods frequently, but Manley says it's never been this bad. He booked a hotel and tried to get a ride from a friend, but the waters were too deep on the road. So he got out and walked.

MANLEY: And I had to, like, walk literally through, like, water up to my chest.

ALBERT: He ended up sleeping near the train tracks where several others congregated outside a concert venue. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said Friday that the city was housing about 40 people in a shelter downtown.

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DEAN TRANTALIS: This is a disaster akin to a hurricane strike.

ALBERT: Trantalis said pump trucks are the city's biggest need. Crews have been working to clear roadways and check infrastructure like power stations and roads. The city and county are working together to help residents who were flooded out of their homes.

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TRANTALIS: The water may not be over your head, but it's up to your knees. And there's still damage.

ALBERT: Manley was already planning to move to a high-rise apartment in downtown before the flooding. Now he says he's thankful he'll be on the 30th floor.

MANLEY: Like, I don't even feel safe living on the ground level anywhere, because if something like this was to happen again, it would destroy all your stuff.

ALBERT: Manly's family spent the night in the flooded house. They unplugged appliances and mostly stayed on their beds that were high enough to avoid the water rushing in. They've since rented a hotel room and hope this city can pump out enough water for them to return home and assess the damages soon. For NPR News, I'm Gerard Albert III in Fort Lauderdale. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Gerard Albert
Gerard Albert III is a senior journalism major at Florida International University, who flip-flopped around creative interests until being pulled away by the rush of reporting.