Parts of South Florida are expected to see plenty of rainfall and strong winds through Monday as Tropical Storm Eta passes through the area.
At a press conference Sunday, Mayor Francis Suarez confirmed that Miami-Dade county's schools, government offices, parks and bus services would be closed on Monday. Broward Mayor Dale Holness announced that Broward government services would also be closed.
The officials both encouraged residents to stock up on critical items in their homes, including water, non-perishable foods and battery-powered lights and chargers.
In a news conference at Fort Lauderdale City Hall, Mayor Dean Trantalis warned of major flooding. Throughout the week, Trantalis says the city has been inspecting storm drains and reducing storm water retention levels.
"Conditions are expected to deteriorate later [Sunday] and into Monday. Do not put yourself at risk by going outside and driving until the conditions clear," Trantalis said.
Eta had reached maximum sustained winds of 65 mph Sunday afternoon. The system is forecast to pass near or over the Florida Keys Sunday evening and early Monday, and reach the southeastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday and Tuesday.
Florida Power and Light Company sent a press release warning that "a significant number of customers from the Treasure Coast to Miami-Dade County and areas throughout Southwest Florida could experience power outages as severe weather affects the state's southern peninsula for several days."
The company added that it was prepared with 10,000 personnel ready to respond. Customers can enroll in alerts by texting the word 'Join' to 69375.
Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for eight Florida counties, including Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach.
Miami-Dade County has opened its evacuation center at the fairgrounds located at 10901 Coral Way, Gate 2 for residents who may need refuge.
"All residents should secure objects that winds could blow around, such as garbage carts, patio furniture, garden tools and toys," the Mayor Carlos Gimenez's office said in a press release.
At a virtual conference held Sunday, Gimenez and other county commissioners urged residents to exercise caution over the next several days, as they said accidents tend to happen even after a storm has passed. They recommended saying home as the safest way to avoid any risks.
The South Florida Water Management District said they are lowering canals and staffing pump stations and control rooms as they watch the forecast. They advised residents to secure any loose items that could clog storm drains or swales.
SAND BAG DISTRIBUTION
- The city of Hialeah Gardens will be distributing sand bags to residents Sunday at 13601 Northwest 107 Avenue. All residents will be allowed up to five bags per vehicle. If you need further information please contact Mayor Yioset De La Cruz at 305-558-4144 or email@example.com.
- Lauderhill residents can assemble their own sand bags for free at Veterans Park in the northeast corner of the parking lot, located at 7600 Northwest 50th Street. The sand will be given a way on a first come, first serve basis from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. People are asked to bring their own bags and proof of Lauderhill residency.
- The City of Dania Beach will be distributing sandbags from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the City Hall Parking Garage located at 100 West Dania Beach Boulevard. 6 bags will be given per vehicle on a first come, first serve basis. A valid ID is required.
- The City of Miami will be distributing sandbags from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Grapeland Park, located at 1550 Northwest 37th Avenue, and Legion Park, located at 6447 Northeast 7th Avenue. There is a limit of 5 bags per person, and proof of residency is required.
- Fuchs Pavilion at Tamiami Park (6445 Southwest 81st Street)
- South Dade Senior High School (28401 Southwest 167 Avenue)
- Monroe County has opened shelters at Key West High School on Flagler Ave; Marathon High School on Sombrero Beach Road; and Coral Shores High School in Tavernier. The shelters are pet-friendly, and coronavirus protocols will be enforced.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue also was reminding residents of safety precautions they can take.
"If you see standing water, whether it’s driving or walking or biking, it is never a good idea to walk or drive into flooded areas as water may be deeper than it appears hiding all kinds of hazards like debris or sharp objects," Fire Rescue spokesperson Erika Benitez said.
Further south in the Keys, officials were monitoring the storm closely, but had no plans yet to evacuate tourists or residents. They urged residents to secure their boats and encouraged visitors to consider altering plans until Eta had passed.
“Residents need to monitor this storm and be prepared for high tropical storm force sustained winds and hurricane strength gusts,” said Shannon Wiener, Monroe County Emergency Management Director.