Fort Lauderdale Declares State of Emergency, Airport Closed Down

Fort Lauderdale Declares State of Emergency, Airport Closed Down
Planes sit at their gates after the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was closed due to the runways being flooded on April 13, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Fort Lauderdale declared a state of emergency on April 13 after a deluge of rain flooded a number of roads and shut down a major airport.

“Flooding conditions remain impactful in the southern areas of the City this morning. An active emergency declaration is in effect,” the City of Fort Lauderdale stated on its website. “Emergency Management crews worked continuously through the night to attend rescue calls.”

It didn’t say when the state of emergency would end.

In a 10:30 a.m. update, the city stated that “many roads across the City are still impassable due to flooding” and urged people to “avoid driving” when possible.

“Crews are out in neighborhoods clearing storm drains to aid water receding from neighborhoods. Vacuum trucks are being deployed strategically throughout the City. However, because of the extreme amount of water, most areas will need to drain naturally,” the update reads.

The U.S. National Weather Services stated that more than 26 inches of rain fell in Fort Lauderdale on April 12, with most falling in the span of only a few hours. Shawn Bhatti, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, told the Florida Sun-Sentinel that the rainfall total is “an unprecedented event.”

Broward County schools canceled classes on April 13, including after-school and extracurricular activities, after water flooded hallways and classrooms at some schools. Service was restored on South Florida’s high-speed commuter rail, Brightline, after it briefly shut down on the evening of April 12.

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, which closed on April 12, stated that it wouldn’t reopen until 5 a.m. on April 14 because of debris and massive flooding.

Shawn Bhatti, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said the region received “an unprecedented amount” of rain. The weather service was still confirming totals, he said.

“For context, within a six-hour period, the amount that fell is about a 1 in 1,000 chance of happening within a given year,” Bhatti said. “So it’s a very historical type of event.”

Fort Lauderdale City Hall remained closed on April 13 with ground-floor flooding and no power. A tunnel housing U.S. Route 1 under a river and a major street in downtown Fort Lauderdale also was closed, along with some ramps to Interstate 95.

At a news conference on April 13, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters that city residents should “be patient as some say this was a 1,000-year storm that resulted in the weather service issuing a very rare flash flood alert.” The city, he said, is contacting federal and state officials for assistance.
“If someone is in a really bad emergency, they should call 911,” he said. “For non-emergencies, call 954-828-8000.”
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service confirmed that there had been two EF-0 tornadoes near Dania Beach on April 12 amid the heavy rainfall.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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