Tropical Storm Eta’s steady rains over three days and nights dumped an average of 10.25 inches water in Miami Lakes and nearby communities, the National Weather Service says.
The heavy rainfall from Nov. 7 - 9 was considered a once in a decade event by the service.
Slowly draining flood waters prompted residents to ask for help from town government as cars were damaged, water crept into garages and lapped against porches, mostly on the west side of town.
Sixteen schools in Miami-Dade County were closed Monday, Nov. 9 and went to online learning the next day because of access and safety issues, including American Senior High School, Barbara Goleman Senior High School, Bob Graham Educational Center and Bob Graham Primary Learning Center.
On Instagram, a resident asked Mayor Manny Cid to send kayaks.
Video of kids riding rafts and dogs playing in the water appeared on social media, as did a healthy-sized gator that walked across the parking lot of the Lake Patricia Shopping Center on Northwest 67th Avenue, which prompted a call to state wildlife officials.
But it wasn’t fun for those who lost electricity or experienced property damage.
Fields at Optimist Park and Royal Oaks Park and The Senator Course at Don Shula’s Golf Club were briefly unusable.
The communities of West Lakes, Serenity Pointe, Villa Vizcaya, Royal Oaks and Silvercrest Lake Estates were among where streets didn’t drain for several days after the storm.
Cid said the town provided a pump truck to remove water from the streets and blamed already saturated ground for contributing to the problem.
The town has been upgrading its drainage systems.
The West Lakes Phase 3 project at Northwest 146th Lane is underway, Councilman Joshua Dieguez said on Facebook.
The approximately $2.2 million upgrade is being funded by a $1.6 million FEMA grant; a $500,000 state grant, $122,000 from stormwater utility fees and $21,500 from the town’s capital fund contingency, according to Dieguez and Cid.
Multi-phase drainage improvements are being made near Northwest 83rd Place, too. Construction work will stretch into next year, the town said.
A $1 million drainage project in Royal Oaks has completed Phase 1, Cid said, and in 2018, drain replacements happened at Lake Sarah and Lake Hilda that were worth $2.2 million.
Communities on the east side of town did not flood because there are outflow systems that send rainwater into canals and lakes, Cid said.
On Nov. 13, he said he hopes in the future he’ll get support for technology he’s pitched before but was shot down because it was considered to be too expensive.
Cid said drainage projects can have pressurized pipes that send water to lakes and canals.
If levels in those waterways are already too high, the pressurized systems can prevent water from going in the wrong direction and reentering pipes, he said.