Did Sewer Water Swamp South Beach?

Many residents believe their streets were flooded with sewer water during Friday's storm, but officials deny this to be the case

For more than two hours, rain and hail plummeted Miami, flooding the streets of South Beach, immersing several businesses, engulfing a multitude of cars and virtually turning Sobe into a tropical Venice.

Lincoln Road was ankle-deep in water. Jefferson, Meridian, Euclid and Pennsylvania avenues were knee-deep in water. And Alton Road south of 10th Street was waist-deep.

Residents trudged through the water even though many believed it to be sewer water as a result of Miami Beach's sewer system overflowing and spilling out onto the streets.

However, Miami Beach spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez said there was no way it could be sewer water because the sewer system is not connected to the city's drainage system.

"Our storm system drains into Biscayne Bay, our sewer system goes to Virginia Key," she said.

"What we experienced yesterday was a phenomenon that we haven't seen in 100 years. There was so much rain that the drainage systems backed up."

She also said that many of the catch basins ended up blocked with debris, contributing to the flooding.

And that nasty smell that has residents believing they were swimming in sewer water?

"It's basically muck," she said. "It's compost. Miami Beach was landfilled with compost to expand it, so that is what you're smelling."

The downpour tore an eight-foot hole in the lobby ceiling of the Fountainebleau Hotel, which recently celebrated a $500 million renovation.It also flooded several businesses along Lincoln and Alton roads. And left blocks after blocks of residences between Lincoln and 5th Street with water in their living rooms.

But the areas along Ocean, Collins and Washington were not flooded, leaving many residents wondering if they were, in fact, second class citizens behind the tourists because they say Miami Beach officials have done nothing to address the problems of flooding.

The National Weather Service said more than nine inches fell on Miami Beach in just five hours. More rain is expected today.

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