Fla. Remains in State of Emergency

Thursday, October 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) — Thousands of people remained without power and hundreds of stalled vehicles sat on still-flooded roadways Thursday as South Florida began drying out from a tropical downpour that dumped more than 18 inches of rain over two days.

Most schools reopened in Miami-Dade County, except at 15 schools with flooded or powerless campuses. The region remained in a state of emergency imposed by Gov. Jeb Bush, and President Clinton promised he would send federal help.

Officials reported more than 93,000 homes with about 214,000 residents in still-flooded areas of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties.

About 9,000 homes and businesses remained without power Thursday, Florida Power and Light reported. Spokesman Bill Swank said many of those were served by underground lines, and restoring all power may take several days. About 91,000 customers had lost power.

There were no immediate estimates of the cost of the damage.

Bush toured the washed-out communities on Wednesday. At a Sweetwater shelter, one of two opened in the county, the governor was greeted by about 150 flood victims.

``My house smells like pee,'' Amelia Wybern, 38, told Bush. ``It's completely flooded. I've lost everything.''

On Florida's west coast, flood warnings were issued for parts of Lee County as 9 inches of rain fell Wednesday. In Lehigh Acres, children rowed in boats along streets. Vacant lots and lawns were under 3 feet of water.

The storm, labeled a subtropical depression by the National Hurricane Center in Miami, was responsible for two deaths.

A 36-year-old worker died Wednesday morning when he fell about 35 feet while trying to drain a roof on Miami Beach, police spokesman Al Boza said.

A 41-year-old worker at Miami International Airport died when he drove a vehicle towing luggage into an overflowing canal.

The torrential rain moved off over the Atlantic Ocean, and flood watches were lifted late Wednesday for southeastern Florida, but forecasters said there was still a 40 percent chance of rain Thursday.

The Miami-Dade County Health Department warned residents to avoid contact with standing water that could be contaminated by overflow from sewer systems and septic tanks.

White House spokesman Steve Boyd said President Clinton, who came here Tuesday to raise money for Democrats but was sidelined by thunderstorms, will sign a disaster declaration request allowing victims to get state and federal money to help them recover from the storm.


On the Net:

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov